Two for Tuesday: The Relentless Passing of Time
If You Knew
What if you knew you”d be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the life line”s crease.
When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn’t signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won’t say Thank you, I don”t remember
they’re going to die.
A friend told me she’d been with her aunt.
They”d just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt”s powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked a half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.
How close does the dragon”s spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?
~ Ellen Bass
String of Pearls
The pearls my mother gave me as a bride
Well, not the pearls, but the string.
One day I was putting
them on, about thirty years on,
and they rattled onto the floor, one by one…
I’m still not sure I found them all.
As it happened, I kept a white seashell
on my vanity table. It could serve as a cup
where, after I’d scooped the lost pearls up,
I’d save them, a many-sister
haven in one oyster.
A female’s born with all her eggs,
unfolds her legs,
then does her dance, is lovely, is the past –
is old news as the last
in the grass of the Easter basket.
True? Who was I? Had I unfairly classed
myself as a has-been? In the cloister
of the ovary, when
released by an extra dose of estrogen,
my chances for love dwindled, one by one.
But am I done?
~ Mary Jo Salter
Music by Nathan Barr, “Love Theme from True Blood”