I have not finished Owen Meany,
and am still in the middle of Merton;
a volume of poetry rests spine-down in front of me,
but I have not finished it either.
Two days ago I baked a loaf of bread
and realized later that I had forgotten the salt.
I cut it anyway and remembered the time when, in Maine,
I made 200 saltless bagels.
No one noticed my mistake then,
and no one is noticing now, how,
I am neglecting to totally finish: books, tasks,
glasses of water, writing projects and written emails home.
But, on Monday evening I sealed the envelope
on a letter to a friend in Minnesota, and
this year I finished Peace Like a River—
Also set in Minnesota.
I enjoy thinking about snow--all that white,
covering dirt like a glowing, sparkling shawl,
a memory-eraser of what had come in the autumn:
mistakes, all the little deaths of attempts.
I have not finished my cup of coffee and I didn’t check
my mail. The dog is asleep on the bed behind me,
and I haven’t fed her her breakfast. She watched me earlier
as I spread jam onto bread. I told her, “not yet, but soon.”
I’ll keep my promise; she’ll remind me. But,
she would still live even if I forgot, and
I would apologize if I did; maybe I should have called her "Grace,"
maybe I still could.