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'Rondo Of The Familiar'

Laurence Barnes

by Robert Pack

Beside the waterfall,
by the lichen face of rock,
you pause in pine shade to remember blue
for drawing back, and green
for trust, replenishing yourself
among familiar leaves
with scattered sunlight.
And beyond those trees in time not ours,
you see our children search
for what we gave them, only to find
our love again in other hands and faces
where our bodies cannot go.
And I step forth
into the scattered light
where you elude me,
though my hands reach out
to share these daily losses,
each beloved breath rounded to a pause,
that still compose our lives.
And the waterfall spills on;
and lichen holds to the rock-face
in the slowness of its quiet life, deliberate
as the dividing of a cell;
and you remember blue
for each round pause you made
freshening a bed,
washing a window with even strokes.
And I step forth
into quickening light
that restores you and
takes you away, telling my hands
to be true to their green truth—
as our children, preparing
faithfully to depart
beyond those trees,
hold for an instant in the pause
you have composed for them.
And I enter that pause,
though the waterfall spills on,
and pollen dust stains
our windows, and the familiar bed
deepens its repeated sigh,
as you wait for me,
each loss fragrant in your arms,
blue as the early crocus
our children soon will stoop to,
pausing by a waterfall
in familiar time beyond us
in pine shade
by the lichen face of rock.

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To Love That Well, poems by Robert Pack
Credit Lost Horse Press

"Rondo Of The Familiar" was published in Robert Pack's collection titled To Love That Well: New & Selected Poems 1954 - 2013 (Lost Horse Press 2013). His poems and essays have appeared in over a hundred magazines and anthologies, such as the American Scholar, New Criterion, Kenyon Review, Georgia Review, and Yale Review. His collection of poems, Composing Voices: A Cycle of Dramatic Monologues (Lost Horse Press, 2005), was a recipient of a Montana Book Award: “Pack’s crisp, sparkling language touching on subjects of personal importance to everyone creates a wonderfully accessible collection of poetry. It is a laudable addition to Montana literature.”

Pack has taught courses in Shakespeare, Romantic Poetry, Modern Poetry, and Ways of Knowing at the Honors College of the University of Montana in Missoula and at the Osher Institute for Adult Learning. He and his wife, Patty, live in a log home with a panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains in Condon, Montana.

Chérie Newman is an arts and humanities producer and on-air host for Montana Public Radio, and a freelance writer. Her weekly literary program, The Write Question, is broadcast on several public radio stations, and available online at and
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