Philip Levine

Dreaming in Swedish

The snow is falling on the tall pale reeds
near the seashore, and even though in places
the sky is heavy and dark, a pale sun
peeps through casting its yellow light
across the face of the waves coming in.
Someone has left a bicycle leaning
against the trunk of a sapling and gone
into the woods. The tracks of a man
disappear among the heavy pines and oaks,
a large-footed, slow man dragging
his right foot at an odd angle
as he makes for the one white cottage
that sends its plume of smoke skyward.
He must be the mailman. A canvas bag,
half-closed, sits upright in a wooden box
over the front wheel. The discrete
crystals of snow seep in one at a time
blurring the address of a single letter,
the one I wrote in California and mailed
though I knew it would never arrive on time.
What does this seashore near Malmo
have to do with us, and the white cottage
sealed up against the wind, and the snow
coming down all day without purpose
or need? There is our canvas sack of answers,
if only we could fit the letters to each other.