That whooshing, watery,
tells me he’s outdoors
on his way somewhere
and I’d better talk fast.
I can’t remember
the last time I phoned him
without dreading that countdown
to when he says, “I’m going
into the subway, Dad, got to go.”
Lately, he even calls me from the street—
a convenient way to keep
his keeping in touch short. He’s right—
I’d talk to him for an hour,
marching through my pent-up questions.
It tires me, wanting him so much,
the resistance with which he responds.
I bet there’s a girl out there
he’d duck into a lobby
to keep speaking to
as long as she desired. Instead,
he tells me that I’m breaking up,
and there’s a sound
as if he’s dropped the phone
into a rushing river, which then
pulls him in too, his life.
“On the Phone” by Michael Milburn, from Drive By Heart. © Word Press, 2009.
It was on this day in 1923 that Frost’s poem titled “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” was published. Frost thought it his best work and his best “bid for remembrance” and noted that the first two lines “contain everything I ever knew about how to write.”
“Whose woods these are I think I know
His house is in the village, though;”
Like many instances of brilliance, this one came in a flash. After working through the night at his kitchen table on a poem called “New Hampshire,” he looked up to notice that night had passed. He walked outside on a warm June morning and, while watching the sun rise, had the idea for “Stopping by Woods.” He went back inside, sat down, and wrote the entire poem barely lifting the pen from the paper. He later said that it was “as if I’d had a hallucination.”
He was probably right. It’s arguably the most well-known poem he ever wrote and certainly a great “bid for remembrance.” Also happens to be one of my favorites.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.