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Downsizing

Charles Hughes
Charles Hughes

for Bunny

  • 1. The Early Stages of Our Move Hammer Out a Simile
  • In our case, it was stress from moving, though
  • It’s a mundane variety. The house
  • We couldn’t think, for thirty years, of leaving —
  • We put it on the market, and it sold
  • In days, as if to do us one last kindness.
  • Saturday: grass-green June; bright, softening air;
  • Contract to sell; no contract yet to buy;
  • We’d seen a place you liked and I did not;
  • Moving makes everything negotiable;
  • Hard, messy, unfamiliar tasks — but whose?
  • Words didn’t work for us that day; we tried.
  • Can love, knee-like, grow osteoarthritic,
  • Outlast the cartilage that cushioned it
  • Against the world’s uneven surfaces,
  • Producing friction by no one’s design?
  • Saturday: dog days; sleepless; two a.m.;
  • Contract to sell still there; contract to buy
  • Now, too (which would fall through within a week);
  • Holding each other; movers coming Thursday;
  • We knew ourselves again among the changes
  • We’d set in irreversible motion. Moving
  • Meant (paradoxically) uncertainties
  • And also sheltering deep inside the love,
  • Given to us to live in — like a home,
  • A roomy home, a certain place to be.
  • 2. Forty-Two Days at the Extended-Stay Hotel
  • The complimentary breakfast and the pool
  • Were just the medicine for those dead days.
  • Rain makes of parched impatiens scarlet tulle.
  • The complimentary breakfast and the pool
  • Would, when a life went out of season, fuel
  • What roots remained — though roots themselves won’t blaze.
  • The complimentary breakfast and the pool
  • Were just the medicine for those dead days.
  • 3. On a Walk by Myself, After We Moved into Our Condo
  • Sunday. Bears playing on the radio
  • In a garage, and half a block ahead,
  • A sugar maple — candy-apple red —
  • Turning, as are sedater trees, to go.
  • Red, orange, yellow — then, it will be bare,
  • I’ll bet, by Halloween, four weeks away
  • (Almost the time now since our moving day).
  • Beginnings, middles, endings everywhere —
  • In trees, their colors drifting off to sleep —
  • In small brown birds forming a single stain,
  • Quick to disintegrate and form again
  • And vanish on the course the seasons keep —
  • In green-blue eyes and in the smile they smile,
  • So I will smile (which, even alone, I do),
  • Eyes steadying the mutable milieu
  • That is a marriage living a good while.
  • “Don’t let those boxes sit — they might sit years . . .
  • Unpack!” a friend advised, and I agreed.
  • Today, though, I’m content to walk and heed
  • The sabbath sunshine. Walking interferes
  • With autumn’s tendency to dramatize
  • How someday everything will end. Like love,
  • My walks can travel a ways and still not move:
  • Their endings are beginnings in disguise.

Charles Hughes is the author of the poetry collection Cave Art (Wiseblood Books, 2014). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in America, the Anglican Theological Review, The Christian Century, Dappled Things, First Things, the Iron Horse Literary Review, Measure, The Rotary Dial, the Sewanee Theological Review, Think Journal, and elsewhere. He worked as a lawyer for 33 years before his retirement and lives with his wife in the Chicago area.

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Charles Hughes
Charles Hughes

for Bunny

  • 1. The Early Stages of Our Move Hammer Out a Simile
  • In our case, it was stress from moving, though
  • It’s a mundane variety. The house
  • We couldn’t think, for thirty years, of leaving —
  • We put it on the market, and it sold
  • In days, as if to do us one last kindness.
  • Saturday: grass-green June; bright, softening air;
  • Contract to sell; no contract yet to buy;
  • We’d seen a place you liked and I did not;
  • Moving makes everything negotiable;
  • Hard, messy, unfamiliar tasks — but whose?
  • Words didn’t work for us that day; we tried.
  • Can love, knee-like, grow osteoarthritic,
  • Outlast the cartilage that cushioned it
  • Against the world’s uneven surfaces,
  • Producing friction by no one’s design?
  • Saturday: dog days; sleepless; two a.m.;
  • Contract to sell still there; contract to buy
  • Now, too (which would fall through within a week);
  • Holding each other; movers coming Thursday;
  • We knew ourselves again among the changes
  • We’d set in irreversible motion. Moving
  • Meant (paradoxically) uncertainties
  • And also sheltering deep inside the love,
  • Given to us to live in — like a home,
  • A roomy home, a certain place to be.
  • 2. Forty-Two Days at the Extended-Stay Hotel
  • The complimentary breakfast and the pool
  • Were just the medicine for those dead days.
  • Rain makes of parched impatiens scarlet tulle.
  • The complimentary breakfast and the pool
  • Would, when a life went out of season, fuel
  • What roots remained — though roots themselves won’t blaze.
  • The complimentary breakfast and the pool
  • Were just the medicine for those dead days.
  • 3. On a Walk by Myself, After We Moved into Our Condo
  • Sunday. Bears playing on the radio
  • In a garage, and half a block ahead,
  • A sugar maple — candy-apple red —
  • Turning, as are sedater trees, to go.
  • Red, orange, yellow — then, it will be bare,
  • I’ll bet, by Halloween, four weeks away
  • (Almost the time now since our moving day).
  • Beginnings, middles, endings everywhere —
  • In trees, their colors drifting off to sleep —
  • In small brown birds forming a single stain,
  • Quick to disintegrate and form again
  • And vanish on the course the seasons keep —
  • In green-blue eyes and in the smile they smile,
  • So I will smile (which, even alone, I do),
  • Eyes steadying the mutable milieu
  • That is a marriage living a good while.
  • “Don’t let those boxes sit — they might sit years . . .
  • Unpack!” a friend advised, and I agreed.
  • Today, though, I’m content to walk and heed
  • The sabbath sunshine. Walking interferes
  • With autumn’s tendency to dramatize
  • How someday everything will end. Like love,
  • My walks can travel a ways and still not move:
  • Their endings are beginnings in disguise.

Charles Hughes is the author of the poetry collection Cave Art (Wiseblood Books, 2014). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in America, the Anglican Theological Review, The Christian Century, Dappled Things, First Things, the Iron Horse Literary Review, Measure, The Rotary Dial, the Sewanee Theological Review, Think Journal, and elsewhere. He worked as a lawyer for 33 years before his retirement and lives with his wife in the Chicago area.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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