James Schuyler

Light from Canada

for Charles North

A wonderful freshness, air

that billows like bedsheets

on a clothesline and the clouds

hang in a traffic jam: summer

heads home. Evangeline,

our light is scoured and Nova

Scotian and of a clarity that

opens up the huddled masses

of the stolid spruce so you

see them in their bristling

individuality. The other

day, walking among them, I

cast my gaze upon the ground

in hope of orchids and,

pendant, dead, a sharp shadow

in the shade, a branch gouged

and left me “scarred forever

‘neath the eye.” Not quite. Not

the cut, but the surprise, and

how, when her dress caught fire,

Longfellow’s wife spun

into his arms and in the dying

of its flaring, died. The

irreparable, which changes

nothing that went before

though it ends it. Above the wash

and bark of rumpled water, a gull

falls down the wind to dine

on fish that swim up to do the same.