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.