Plainfield, Revisited

I used to know where that road went

In the tangled sheen and hollow,
gnarled wood and vine dressed
in spring’s best greenery
Drawn over it like a veil

Sooty chipped cobblestones at the
forgotten garden’s wall,
Climbing, laboriously, up the hill
on creaky legs before turning at the bend
and looking back

At me.

The forgiving smile of an old neighbor,
from the old neighborhood now barely remembered
Hoping for that glint of recognition,
but not expecting it, and not minding much
– except deep inside.
Where they’d dared to paint the picture of that warm welcome:
the prodigal son made good,
Brought in and fed tea and cookies
over a warm fire and tales
of the Life Over There.

I knew him, once.

And the road, the road remembers too:
My footsteps under that same wood,
and a younger green,
The cobblestones then so inviting,
and my feet taking up their welcome,
to plunge into those limitless possibilities
of figuring everything out

I did, and other roads as well.

And more, more than I can remember,
until the tangle of roads and memories
lay thicker than these woods,
dressed in the faded recollection
of last year’s blackened leaves
– where did they all lead?

The road?

It looks back too, turning at the bend
and tries not to mind while I mutter
my Robert Frost excuses about roads not taken
and miles, yes, miles
to go before I sleep

No longer, but I used to know
where that road went, and still wonder:
which of my tangled memories lie
at its end

(I was going through my journal, and came across this one, from a while
back, from one evening in Pittsburgh. I was walking back through the
old neighborhood, up along the edge of Schenley Park on the way back
to the conference hotel. It’s a bit impressionistic, but I’m fond of
the repeated metaphor, so I thought I’d indulge myself and forward in
on to you.)

(The road in question is Schenley Ave, leading up, away from our old
house and into the park)

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