Daniel Anderson

Mare Cognitum

The Windsor knot is loose.
At last, the number-driven mind
Relaxes in its race and he begins
The drowsy, dull commute
Out to the leafy suburbs in the east.
Talk radio or Brahms or just
The leather cockpit-quiet of his car,
It’s only incidental noise behind
An undulating chain
Of ruby brake lights travelling home
On the interstate.
Six exits left to go
Before the turn up Gladys Avenue,
The shopping traffic near the mall,
A roundabout and then the right that veers
Him past the elementary school,
A firehouse and the nursing home.
His is the driveway next to mine.
Evenings, when he arrives,
We often mark the brief
And easy intersection of our lives
With enthusiastic waves,
Sometimes a shout.  I’m sure
He wonders what the heck it is I do.

Tonight, the moon is whole.
It rises custard-yellow and immense
Over our roofs and fat magnolias.
He strides from his garage. He bellows out
Hey! Get a load a that!
Together in the moment we
Take measure of what’s looming there.
Abandoned planet. Ice-impacted place.
Those countrysides embossed
With moguls, powder-sunken lakes and frost.

Before they divorced,
We listened to them argue every night.
Doors and cupboards slammed. Wine glasses shattered.
At least it seemed like every night.
Most weekends now he gets his boys.
They help him wash and wax the car.
All three of them rake leaves. They play catch.
Whoever dreams that love might come to this?
How rapidly that moon,
In its phosphorous and lonely climb,
Diminishes to a medallion size.
It blanches plaster-white!
The moon, no doubt,
that bright unblinking winter eye
Must see it happen all the time.

Daniel Anderson has published two books of poetry, Drunk in Sunlight and January Rain. He also edited The Selected Poems of Howard Nemerov. His third collection, The Night Guard at the Wilberforce Hotel, will be published in 2013. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Oregon.