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Summer, Sheltering in Place

          After "Quarantine: From the Garden Window," by Robert Rhodes

When I was small, I used to wake before the sun

to sit in the still-dark living room, turn on the T.V., 

bathe in the test pattern’s bright glow. Now that I 

so seldom leave the house, I lift the shade at 5 AM,

watch the colors rising one by one outside the window,

like an orchestra in which one player at a time joins in 

until a loud brightness stings my eyes, light sifting 

through the leaves. Gradually, that slash of green 

becomes the hedge, the red smudge a neighbor’s 

truck, backed by a splash of blue, the pool across 

the street the color of a cloudless sky. There’s still 

an umber patch of shadow underneath the trees. 

In the branches of the sycamore, the woodpecker 

listens hard, then mines the bark to find his breakfast.  

Like me, grubs hidden there can’t escape his hammering. 

If I return this afternoon, the colors will have dimmed 

or mellowed, the shadow disappeared. What if 

the window’s frame could suddenly contain another scene, 

the veldt’s burnt brown, acacia like a stationary cloud, 

grazing zebras, lions eying me through high grass?

Remembering Monet, I look and look again at the same view,

find it changed only by light, which after all, is everything.

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