The One Day
by Donald Hall
Smoke rises all day from two chimneys above us.
You stand by the stove looking south, through bare branches
of McIntosh, Spy, and Baldwin. You add oak logs
to the fire you built at six in the castiron stove.
At the opposite end of the same house, under another chimney,
I look toward the pond that flattens to the west
under the low sun of a January afternoon, from a notebook
busy with bushels and yields. All day in our opposite
rooms we carry wood to stoves, we pace up and down, we plan,
we set figures on paper—to converge at day’s end
for kisses, bread and talk; then we read in silence,
sitting in opposite chairs; then we turn drowsy.
Dreaming of tomorrow only, we sleep in the painted bed
while the night’s frail twisting of woodsmoke assembles
overhead from the two chimneys, to mingle and disperse
as our cells will disperse and mingle when they lapse
into graveyard dirt. Meantime the day is double
in the work, love, and solitude of eyes
that gaze not at each other but at a third thing:
a child, a ciderpress, a book—work’s paradise.
From north pole and south we approach each other
Atlantic encounters Pacific, up meets down:
Where extremes meet we make our equator:–Your body
with narrow waist and carved shoulders, hips
comely, breasts outswooping; my body intent,
concentrated, and single. We enter this planisphere
without strangeness, betrayal, or risk; our bodies
after bright tumult float in shadow and repose
of watery sleep, skin’s fury settling apart
and pole withdrawing to pole: A bed is a world.