Yes Our Time Is Short But That’s Not Why
When anxious, I look up words to distract myself:
wait and calm, bridge and island and time.
I have always known how to spell hurry and brief,
the other uses for concert, tangle, and home.
Twenty years ago friends and I dropped acid
and lay on the grass of this spinning world, and I held
a lover’s hand in the little tunnels of Golden Gate Park.
We turned into something for our few hours and
in the morning without sleep we laughed and laughed
in restaurants and on the bus home.
Now some of those friends speak Latin,
but only because it makes them lawyers or better gardeners,
and it is your hand that leads me this time
over the half-moon bridge in the Japanese gardens,
out next to water and into speech,
past other people’s paintings in the sun,
slowly on the days when I am sick,
and later to walk with sore feet through the safe dark.
Long before our coming loss, hesitation seems foolish
and of the things we are certain we should speak.
Yes our time is short, but that’s not why
I write the word love beside your name,
make my own shudderings over breakfast
and out in this dear and public world.
Concrete is described as a coalescence of particles
gathered into something solid and direct.
A poem is said to be concrete, poetry abstract,
but each of them is both like what we do and who we are.
The weight of our time together has whole cities
in it, lobbies full of strangers, the envelopes from paper cups
to protect our hands from the coffee’s heat.
The things we read contain the time we read them,
locations and the memory of what we were wearing.
How gray was my hair when I sang next to the bathtub?
When I tripped and you were thinking of living here forever
did each of those things become part of the other?
Some poems have ridden in elevators to your room,
become part of the train rides where we read them.
Other items stayed in their suitcases and still
picked up the associations from all we put there.
Certain Norwegian painters with dark pallets
make paintings for us full of red and blue birds.
I can be anxious about everything sometimes
the way we are supposed to be ready and thankful
for the curve of our cereal bowls, each day’s direct joys,
how we might take pictures of people with our eyes.
Nothing we have is easy but
nothing we have is nothing either.
Our world is concrete. There is this attraction to words,
our permanent discoveries in the things we can share.
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