Slow Poems That Last Years

She said, “My life is a slow poem that has lasted years.”

I nodded but the gesture was lost over the telephone line. I thought, There are poems of words and poems of acts. Our lives are longish poems of acts. Silently but irrevocably, without our knowing how, the isolated acts of our lives are woven together into something more until, looking back, we hear a cadence, a certain way of joining and breaking the parts, of taking pauses, of choosing our expressions. In the end, like it or not, we are left unclothed in the crowded plaza with only our poem to represent us.

On punctuation: There are sudden apostrophes to our poems like the 10-minute hail storm that teases the bright afternoon and causes those who had been inside to query the bright sky, then the glistening streets, then the sky again. Only the sharp-sighted few see some mischievous clouds scurrying off between fleet winds.

Isn’t this more than enough? Why would anyone want to live beyond their time, concern themselves with posterity? What unquashable hubris is there in the root of men that makes us want more than our share? What we’ve already been given so far exceeds our comprehension; it would take a world of lifetimes to relish all the fruits, contradictions, ironies, pleasures and possibilities in a single life. Isn’t that more than enough?

I will write this one, slow poem until I can write no more. And it will be enough.

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