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My Turn: In a welcoming community, poems tend to write themselves

  • DUCKS

    DUCKS

  • White Park near dusk July 1, 2014

    White Park near dusk July 1, 2014

  • White Park near dusk

    White Park near dusk

  • DUCKS
  • White Park near dusk July 1, 2014
  • White Park near dusk

Maybe you should write a poem about the Fourth of July, you offered.

I was sitting with this beautiful lady, sharing a glass of wine on her porch. We had just met this evening as I walked past her house on my nightly excursion with my little dog, Charlie.

I thought about her suggestion. I don’t usually write by assignment, but I am always looking for little nuggets of inspiration. I thought this might be one.

I moved to Concord in January, in one of the coldest winters in recent history, and tucked myself into my little house and wondered what my future might be in this town.

My previous life that I knew and recognized was over, and I chose Concord as my new beginning, my rise from the ashes.

I did not know what to expect or to hope for. Spring came and the cold finally retreated, and evenings beckoned us out to explore.

Our walks usually take us to White Park, where we sit and watch the ducks dip and roll and paddle around, the baby ducks scooting off to explore the reeds, and the mothers calling one quick warning when they venture too far.

A quick quack, in other words.

Tonight, we didn’t stop but strolled past slowly, admiring the deep red sunset over the park, and the “rocket’s red glare” immediately came to mind. I thought of the faraway hills as the ramparts, and we watched the swifts wheel and etch their flight across the glowing crimson.

A red sky over White Park, I thought. And I realized I had found the red and white for my poem. I looked for blue. But you can’t force these things, so we walked on. Every night is an adventure here.

Our walks feel like a page turning to the next exciting bit of the story. We seem to meet someone every time we leave the house, and I am beginning to feel like this is my home, my community.

I have never lived in a place as welcoming, and I feel embraced by the town and the soft night breezes blowing through it.

As we zigzagged block by block, admiring the varied architecture and the beautiful gardens, we came upon a couple sitting out on their front stoop with their dog.

Our dogs wagged a hello while the grown-ups chatted.

Our conversation grew, and a new friendship was begun. The woman confided in me that she was glowing and grinning from ear to ear inside because her son was coming home, on leave, from overseas.

She was picking him up tomorrow at the airport. I got goose bumps listening to her excitement about seeing her boy again.

He’s a Marine, she said.

I pictured their reunion in my mind, as she watched him walking out of the crowd in his dress blue uniform, now a man.

And I was grinning for her.

We said goodnight, and Charlie and I made our way along the darkened streets.

And as we drifted quietly homeward, I realized that I had found the blue.

(Sara Mathews lives in Concord.)

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