Side Canyons by Henry Lyman

Sometimes they reveal
a handprint, child-sized
almost, our shapes being
smaller then, of one of us
beside the same rock wall
that curves along the same
dry creek bed, somebody
whose whim it was to dip
a hand in mud and leave
its image waiting, forever
maybe, for someone else
to lose his way to, pause,
and spreading a hand out
over that gesture feel, within
the last few sunbaked crumbs
of mud, the ghosts of fingertips,
and the want in there, a loneness,
groping, through a thousand years
of mud on stone, for some likeness
in the hand that hovers there a while
as though before a mirror, and draws
itself away again, and waving, fades.


Henry Lyman edited Robert Francis’s posthumous collection Late Fire, Late Snow and an anthology of New England poetry, After Frost, and has published two books of translations. For twenty years he hosted Poems to a Listener, a radio series of readings and conversation with poets. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.