Emblems of the Times

Looking both ways as I cross the icy creek.
Shifting and realizing my back hasn’t hurt all day.

Stepping out the back door: the car gone,
the driveway empty, the house empty.

Once I was a speck of light–no, I saw
in the shimmery mist a host of lights

that did not burn or cease to burn.
I went back to my wife, my children,

told them nothing. Now I only want
to spin skeins of sound from the old guitar,

sift and sort for some new music,
some tune old as Jesus, young as Jesus.

That night something came flying,
a gift in the shape of a cardinal or a crow,

sharp in the shadowy darkness,
soundless except for the rumor of wings.

I woke into my life, rose and dressed
like a criminal whose crime has been forgotten.

The last high dive in Ohio has been torn down.
The backup battery is fully charged.

That station are bursting with gasoline,
dozens of drink options, heat lamp pizza.

The roads out of town are clear in all directions.

Jeff Gundy

Jeff Gundy’s recent books of poems include Without a Plea (Bottom Dog, 2019), Abandoned Homeland (Bottom Dog, 2015), and Somewhere Near Defiance (Anhinga, 2014), for which he was named Ohio Poet of the Year. Recent work appears in Georgia Review, The Sun, Christian Century, Image, and Cincinnati Review. He teaches at Bluffton University in Ohio.

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