In 2005 I was still using my first computer — a desktop model with an expansive, very comfortable keyboard and a massive, heavy tower with two floppy drives. I bought it in 1993. A 486, it had a 340-megabyte hard drive, 12 megabytes of RAM, and ran Windows 3.1 at an impressive clock-doubled 50 megahertz. I called it “The Workhorse.” Almost as good as my old Royal typewriter, it was, nevertheless, not quite up to Internet standards. And so as I completed each piece, to add it to my website, I had to copy the file onto a diskette, and transfer it to our eldest son’s computer, format it on the local copy of my website, sign on with our dial-up connection, and use an FTP program to upload it to the Web. This went on day after day after day for several years, sometimes several times a day, until I finally got a new, grownup computer, which in turn has since been replaced. I use a laptop now. I do still have the old machine, although I’ve recycled its two dead monitors. The keyboard is in the closet. It’s almost as big as a surfboard. It’s a beautiful flotation device. I know, because it saved me from sinking a great many times.
Now You’re Home
Now you’re home, but the changes
have you scared: the trees sprouted
in the sitting room, the hunters’ horns
and rolling fields of winter grain,
the still pond frozen at the edge,
axes ringing down the hall.
I should apologize, I know.
I see you waiting for some word,
a reason, perhaps, the freezer is warm
and full of books, the oven a home
for muddy shoes. Don’t worry.
I can explain it all.
You were away so long: an hour,
maybe more. I remember what you said:
I am leaving now. You even wore a coat.
And then the door, irrevocable,
frightful barrier beyond my command,
your footsteps on the walk, leading away,
to the emptiest silence I have ever known.
See how old I’ve grown. And yet you are
the same, only better — a rare breeze
bearing woodsmoke and far-damp earth,
unaccountable violets, orange blossoms,
a veil of longing I can’t describe.
I feel like the last man on earth,
revived from his curse to stay alive.
Songs and Letters, November 15, 2005