American Life in Poetry: ‘The Day’

This is the sixth poem we’ve published by Peter Everwine, which testifies to how much I admire his writing. How fine it is when a memory arrives from the past to surprise us into happiness. Everwine lives in California, and his most recent book is “Listening Long and Late” from the University of Pittsburgh Press.

The Day

(Peter Everwine)

We walked at the edge of the sea, the dog,

still young then, running ahead of us.

Few people. Gulls. A flock of pelicans

circled beyond the swells, then closed

their wings and dropped head-long

into the dazzle of light and sea. You clapped

your hands; the day grew brilliant.

Later we sat at a small table

with wine and food that tasted of the sea.

A perfect day, we said to one another,

so that even when the day ended

and the lights of houses among the hills

came on like a scattering of embers,

we watched it leave without regret.

That night, easing myself toward sleep,

I thought how blindly we stumble ahead

with such hope, a light flares briefly – Ah, Happiness!

then we turn and go on our way again.

But happiness, too, goes on its way,

and years from where we were, I lie awake

in the dark and suddenly it returns —

that day by the sea, that happiness,

though it is not the same happiness,

not the same darkness.

We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Poem copyright 2016 by Peter Everwine, “The Day,” from New Letters, (Vol 83, no. 1, 2016-17). Poem reprinted by permission.