A Late Apology
A Late Apology
by Daniel Anderson
It was all ours, we joked.
A shambled, overgrown estate.
Hackberry trees, wisteria like rope,
the carport and the morning glory—choked
old flowerbed. All ours:
wild clumps of poison oak, a lank,
rust-eaten corrugated shed,
shattered and whole clay pots,
an overwhelming, ripe chaos of weeds.
All ours: wood roach and bottle fly,
hornet and wasp, sweat bee,
the blue skinks and the millipedes,
and leering like a wasted, bloodshot eye,
a red-hot marble spider
clenched at the center of her web.
I can’t forget, larger than my
two human arms around,
her supple, taut, and silken net,
or how three moist, green mornings in a row
we marveled over everything she caught:
dew-glistened crickets, clumsy moths,
and phosphorescent lightning bugs.
But what I can’t remember now
is why or even how
our words that summer’s night turned cross.
Dead certain I was right
(though who could say whatever I
was right about?), I slammed
one door. I let another bang behind
then smoldered slightly out of range,
just far enough where I might still hear
a reconciling call.
But no call ever came,
only the minor, iron cries
of passing Alabama trains.
It was a shallow, touchless night of sleep,
troubled by wind outside,
white thunder cracks and hammer-hissing rains,
but when we woke the world was fresh,
cornflower-pale and clear.
That’s been nearly a year.
Sometimes I can still see it flutter there—
a tattered, ghostly, broken web
like floss or silver wisps of widow’s hair
tickling the morning air
as if it were a thing that might be said
of sorrow or regret.
But standing in that ochre dawn
I chose a different thought instead,
making a vague remark
about the weather’s sudden, gorgeous change
and all our gaudy myrtle blooms
that swayed and dandled overhead.
1 thought on “A Late Apology”
Difficult. First we have the tangled overgrown detail of the “estate,” ending with the description of the spider and her massive web. Then we have some unreconciled argument followed by a night of troubled sleep and the dawn of “fresh,” “clear” day. A year passes. Return to the web, in the mind’s eye, which, “tattered,” “broken,” somehow stands for an apology not made: “a thing that might be said of sorrow or regret;” ending with what was said “instead”: “a vague remark about the weather’s sudden, gorgeous change,” which apparently tried to reconcile things but failed.
I like but am overwhelmed by the beginning detail, and then am disappointed because it doesn’t tie into the argument that transpired (which the poet says he can’t remember); nor does the web (probably for the same reason). The imagery is great, evocative, but of what? Can it alone stand for the “chaos” of the human relationships that call the place “all ours?” I get a sense but fail to grasp the central knot of it, and how the web, which seems to stand for that, and the source of the argument, can also stand for the forgone apology.