Up the hill
‘… I climbed the hill toward home’

22 May 2016

Rapt, I watched the last
gulls wheel east.  Rapt,
I listened until their cries
faded far out
over the importunate ocean.

Dusk hung ashen
over the harbor bled of light,
painting pale lavender
the white-washed buildings.
A scatter of people walked the beach,
as the hum of evening rose
over the town.  The back door
of a restaurant banged shut,
then the chuff of the door
of a refrigerated truck.  Something fresh
caught was being delivered.
A clatter of aluminum pans
shot a cat out of hiding,
hissing like an espresso machine.

Purred quietly into view
an elegant BMW
sedan, out of which stepped
a tan-shoed man,
trailed by two beatific,
bored looking children, past which
biked an energetic youth,
the look on his face expectant.

A steepled clock struck seven.
Boats, crowded in the harbor,
yawed on their ropes,
like horses tied to posts,
skittish, wanting to be
set free.  The tide was stirring them
to bolt.  In the otherwise quiet,
a sailor shouted a profanity.
A rope had burned his hands.

The day’s light was gone.
A man wove his way toward a bar,
opened the door on a raucous roar
of voice noise radioing
static into the street.  The door
closed behind him, sucking
the noise out of the street.

Night-quiet couples
walking close together
paused to read
menus posted in windows
on the main street; while one street over
families in houses bloomed slowly
like bouquets round supper tables.

Later, a song rose, faintly at first,
from the back room
of one of the restaurants,
a school song by the sound of it.
It carried the merry sadness of a reunion,
which proved true.  A crew of rowers
had gathered to reminisce,
and on the morrow would gather
to watch their Alma Mater compete,
as they had done a generation earlier.
Departing the restaurant,
they parted like a wave round me,
in the good-natured chatter
of men who had made
successes of their lives.

They, and the town, I left behind
as I climbed the hill toward home,
climbed away from the rhapsodic
hum aureoleing all,
the ever-fading sounds of a town
regaling in the lovely
air of evening.

The higher I climbed I listened
to the rhapsody fade behind me,
fade ever more faintly
until all I heard
was the first faint chirr
of a cricket nearby
from my garden, a cricket
the click of the lock of my front door
answered, moving the hour
that much closer to midnight.

Philip Kuepper
(28 March 2016)

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