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Sheet Lightning

— For Bob, Jerry , Ron and Howard


The five of us went up the ocean path

so full of dinner’s heady wine, aroused

by curiosity and light behind bay trees —

late in the season, more as friends

this loose arrangement to our house —

of middle age with thinning hair

and one infected years ago, another of uncertain

health, bound to spend these summer months

laughing on our open deck, the anecdotal

and the old, who will cook and who will clean

now satisfactorily known.



Half in fear we walk ahead to climb a rise

by thinning pines, the merriment of just before

gone with the darkened clouds. In bolts of white

its life inside seems bright and manic

to its glow — like primal glances of a god

more fierce than understood.

Below we stand like startled deer

who in the thicket bounce and flee

unmoving like the boys we were

when first we’d heard of the disease.

Friends tonight who walk away

back to the house we’ve come to know

and close the doors and brace for rain

enormous to the horizon.

from Circuit by Walter Holland © 2010

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