Only after looking at the house going up
on the mountain across the valley, did I pick up
the fat Borges I’ve had for six years and read
a few paragraphs about Don Quixote, slipping
a pencil in the book when I was done and placing
the book on the table beside the window
through which I stared at the house.
There was an apple in my pocket with a flat spot
from when I dropped it on the floor.
It rolled under the table before I looked
at the house, and I got under the table
with the apple, the first time in my life
I’d been under a table with an apple.
I sat there a while, wondering what else
I haven’t done, and then got up and looked
at the house and read some Borges. Don Quixote
has killed a man in the Borges. I screamed
when I read that, feeling this
is the honest response to murder when you have
a green apple in your pocket. The leaves
on the trees on the mountain
have turned gold and red and orange. I worry
the pencil will, over time, distort the book.
But now that I’ve put it there, I don’t think
I should take it out, it seems
that I gave the moment a particular shape
by slipping the pencil between the pages,
and that to alter that shape now
would be a disavowal of my past. The light
on the Borges is gray. I imagine this
is the light that was touching Don Quixote
when he killed the man and that slipped
inside the wound of the man when he was killed.
It’s light the sky keeps in a box
until it’s winter. I hold the green apple
up to this light, it is my opposition, not to winter
but to what winter represents, to the house
going up on the mountain and the murder
in Borges that keeps happening every time
someone reads those pages. I suspect
there are feelings in the apple,
that I’ll never know what it costs the apple
to go up against the gray light and the house
and the murder. A God would know this,
but what a God knows a man cannot know,
nor what a dog knows can a man know,
nor what a man knows can a man know.
They needed a road to put the house up, for days
a great felling of trees, the sound of it
a growling on the mountain. But in a few years,
no one will question that road, it will seem
as if the trees one day curtsied
and stepped out of the way. There was nothing
under the table except me and the apple
and my future and the apple’s future.
It was an exciting moment of esprit de corps.