Even Joy Has Its Coordinates

Not that hard to remember, or even to place

where it happened.  But to begin

with a human thing: all that I can see of it now

is light held along surfaces, shaped by edges.

 

Where and when it happened begins

with a meeting I had arrived early for,

watching light held along surfaces, shaped by edges,

gold flakes settling in sunshine’s green glass, a morning

 

I had arrived early for.  The meeting

wouldn’t start for an hour or so, so I sat outside

in the morning, sunshine like gold flakes settling in green glass,

reading something I’d meant to get to in a moment like that.

 

For an hour or so I sat outside,

alone among leaf-bedecked tables, stacked garden chairs

reading something I’d meant to get to in a moment like that.

What seems important now, what places me there

 

alone at a leaf-bedecked table, un-stacked garden chair

is not some stuff I half remember in highlighter, scribbled margins,

what makes that of so many places I have been seem important

is a wave, slower than thought, cloudier than feeling.

 

Lurid highlights and scribbled margins

can’t recall it, because there’s nothing to be done with it

that wave, slower than thought, cloudier than feeling:

something passing overhead had settled momentarily.

When I can recall it, I don’t know what to do with that

knowledge that it passed as I moved through it.

Something passing overhead had settled momentarily

and I just happened to be there for it.

 

It had passed even as I moved through it

the way, through the gate, I could see branches moving, clouds, shadows.

I happened to be there for it,

and then, I guess, it had someplace to be, and me – somewhere else.

 

Away through the gate, I could see branches moving, shadows

of clouds captured as they fell by the things they fell upon

and now, I guess, I’m somewhere else, and it has someplace else to be, 

changed by its coordinates.  Joy remains

 

captured as it falls by those whom it falls upon,

a human thing: all that I can see of it now

is that, unchanged by its coordinates, joy remains

not that hard to remember or even to place.

Highly commended, Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize, 2017