"Space Needle"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Oct. 3 2006 12:34 PM

"Space Needle"

for Stephen

Click here to listen to Kristin Fogdall read this poem.


If each foot took us back a year, the dark below would be immaculate, like a hole

in space, instead of stars,
or a jar of colored glass
someone shook

and scattered in a dream.
But from this height,
our childhood town

spreads out, a silver galaxy,
and tourists peer
into the giant metal scopes.

I scan the towers, walls
of windows, one small pane:
sofa, tiny people

face to face—a man
and woman talking,
as they may do every day,

or perhaps this is
the last time, or their first.         
The lamp she crosses to

dims the room a darker gold.
It's like watching movies
on the wall at home

where we cavort across
some stretch of sand:
I want to step inside the frame

and take my own hands,
and look into my eyes,
and see what's true

and what's idealized.
What should we try to be?
If we looked down

through time instead of sky,
would we see ourselves
behind another pane—

our faces gazing back
through days or years,
until we recognized that room,

the lives we've lived in all along?
The wind is off the Sound,
and makes no sound

except a ruffle
at the rail edge.
On the tiny street below,

a man is working on the road.
Alone behind his truck,
lit by a magnesium haze, he turns

a little orange wheel,
some apparatus out of sight.
He is the perfect

model of a man, which means
we love his task in ways
that he cannot, and wish

to close the shutter on
the stars, our years, with something
like his gesture of repair.

Kristin Fogdall's poems have appeared in Poetry, The New Republic, Partisan Review, New England Review, and other journals. She lives in Vermont.

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