1 Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy while each leaf thrusts into the universe of air and the light green haze of April rises like smoke sweet in the nostril. Let the mind fill the hemisphere of day while the sun beats a million white wings. Let each yellow and red bud in the dew blaze forth with a hundred suns while night picks up her gauze and vanishes over the hills. Let the rabbit’s eye shine while he drums the turf summoning his brethren; the squirrels spiral down, their tails like clouds, to clatter among the woodsy rubble; and the shrew shriek and hide herself under the root. 2 The cat stretches by the window and cries at the door; the dog yawns, then yelps at the rising sun that will run all day till it drops in the west. The mattress creaks as the man rises to fix breakfast, his back telling him he is—ah!—alive while the neighbor’s car snorts and gulps air in an ascending whine. Children feel their way through cool porcelain bathrooms, teenagers dream a world of shimmering electric presences and clothes rise from the dresser to glide across the skin, the belt firmly encircles the waist and the tie mounts to prop the chin. 3 Yet, staring back from the bathroom mirror are the ghost of the office, the boss’s purposeful smile, fog of the night’s dream, the nattering conscience, the gluttonous mortgage, the skin in love with gravity, and the razor’s unkind cut—awareness of what is done and undone—the thousand engines of destruction the cerebral cortex draws across its synapses toward the fragile sanctum of the present moment. Let each ghost wither and vanish in sunlight, crisp to the nothing it is, while a joyful procession dances along the myriad lightning pathways of the mind. 4 Tree and house are clear in this moment when light is given shape and each thing pauses, itself—before the frame blurs, the attention fails and we fall into one or another distraction: the horrors and banalities of the news, the half-typed letter, the mysteries of long division, the tumbled tower of blocks, regret’s heavy shadow or the usual obsession. Lord, in the bright vehicle of this moment, descend to us and spread your golden tent that we might keep sweet breakfast together, your beard dripping honey as we ascend the dayspring of your eyes into an emptiness that is present, solid and real.
“Aubade” by Robert Siegel originally appeared in A Pentecost of Finches (Paraclete, 2006) and is published in the posthumous collection Within This Tree of Bones: New and Selected Poems (Cascade/Wipf & Stock, 2013). Used by permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers.