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”
2 thoughts on ““All I ever did to that apartment was hang fifty yards of yellow theatrical silk across the bedroom windows, because I had some idea that the gold light would make me feel better, but I did not bother to weight the curtains correctly and all that summer the long panels of transparent golden silk would blow out the windows and get tangled and drenched in afternoon thunderstorms. That was the year, my twenty-eight, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and ever procrastination, every word, all of it.” ~ Joan Didion, from “Goodbye to All That””
Interesting poems… They bring up questions… So many questions… I like the Joan Didion quote…
Storm and rain fizzled out here, but there’s a dark cloud. I missed the meteor shower. I studied on the porch today and was rewarded by a flock of cedar waxwings coming to eat the last red berries on the holly tree…
I hope you are having a good week… It will cool off tomorrow.
In my old office at GWU, there was a tree right outside my window, and I had a pair of Cedar Waxwings that visited daily. Probably the best part of that job.
Every single thing that Didion writes just slays me.