Without elevations, hurricanes, or

earthquakes, without geological alarms,

we learn to count the angles

in the sky and to admire four-barrel carburetors

in the muscle cars that combine with roadside

trees in the six-pack dark of Saturday.

It's not that something has to happen.

A man writes a letter to himself

and excludes the absolute: he is four seasons,

paths in third-growth woods, nature that is endlessly familiar.


He is a silo: he stores, he feeds.

No horsemen raging down the mountains

flying banners, no vipers, just this and that

that could be anywhere but happens to be here.

The children grow up calm: they learn

about psychotic tantrums like tornados.

They plan. There is time, and more time

and more time after that to learn to love

the mild gifts – these apple trees, these

sparrows – in this marriage with a woman

who knows you, but will not kiss you back.


- From Midwestern Poetics by Charles Baxter

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