The Death of Attempts


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.