On Earth

At the bus stop under the horse chestnut, we tally the length of Boyhood
against the babysitter’s plans for later and, waiting,
see the leaves have started to wilt,
brown at their July edges, losing a little of spring’s climb upward;

afterwards, emerged from the dark into a thunderstorm, we see out
the tree’s arching welcome to spikes of lightning,
its base flooding,
growing into reduced circumstances, swelling up, but still about.

Is this what it means to be someone? I’m not saying anything,
but twenty-four hours later, the smell in the air is of rain drying off stone,
the tree’s slow and seasonal evaporation. A way of answering

to a day, to years of them, that we step into and speak up for.
To you.
There is no one else I am talking to.

from The Way In (Gallery, 2015), John McAuliffe 2015, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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