I check the time and see that it is now.
Outside as far as I can see is here.
What I can choose to do comes down to how
I evaluate and act upon this dear
and precious present — what a perfect word.
Here-and-now is all we have in the absurd
cat’s cradle we construct from might-have-beens
that curdle while we conjure larger skeins
of wished-for lies that we fantasise are wool
that, if we weave it well, will give us full
control and meaning for the lives we lead —
or, better, follow — out of some daft need
to imagine our existences are more
than moments to experience and adore.
We listened but we didn’t do a thing.
Oh, Samantha marched, and Luther read a list,
and I chaired meetings. Glenda did I Ching.
And none of us believed apologists
for industries who claimed their little bits
of damage to our home lands weren’t so bad.
But Do? But Fight? A third of us signed chits
demanding less pollution. We were glad
we’d been so active, while we’d stayed polite.
We stayed on in the cities. We consumed.
The storm clouds thickened; we turned up the light
and read our anthems while the rockets zoomed
and birth control was honoured in the breech.
Jehovah gave his day job up to teach.
‘It was Time,’ they said at the front desk. They were right.
Time had come down, turned in the room key, and gone out.
‘What about Space then?’ they said at the front desk. Second sight
would have helped them understand what was about
to happen, or had happened, as the thin red line
between conflicting realities unravelled.
In the mirror-filled hotel restaurant, Death took a shine
to his own reflection marvelling how he’d travelled
from a There to a Here in a fraction of a Now.
Waitresses turned grey. The head waiter waived
the wait-to-be-seated rule and gave a bow
to Death. ‘They all do,’ Death thought, ‘as if it saved
them answering when I call.’ He ordered toast
and wondered which – Time or Space? – missed him the most.
When the whispers that were once anthems all die out,
now that the madness at the fringe is institutionalized,
will we drown in private penance? Will we shout?
Our freedom was not something devils prized
from our dead hands. No, we gave it away.
We still have a chance, a lesser chance, to win
our freedom back, our honour back, today
and every bleak tomorrow. Seeing sin
for what it is – a bully and a coward –
is the first step to redemption, to the goal
of living in a world we want. Keep marching forward.
Madness feeds on madness and we’ll be leaving
our better selves behind us in the cold
unless we organise and stop mute grieving.
I watch nostalgia surface, see it bite
at the sunrise that relieves the harvest moon.
This perfect weather – bright light day and night –
should be enough, but is not, to festoon
my autumn with the joys of the season:
canoeing, hiking, catching leaves that fall
like puzzle pieces teasing at my reason.
Why having much can I not have it all?
The past calls loudly but not using words.
I revisit places I have never been.
More of me than my eye pursues the birds
that gyre around the great church spire and then
flit out of sight, return once, and are gone
into the shade nostalgic thoughts bring on.
The below-horizon sun redlines the clouds,
accelerates their thinning till all’s clear.
The day makes light of darkness and its shrouds
and with silhouette and sound the birds appear.
Grey herons lift from graveyard nests and plane
above the houses cruising to the sites
they will fish today. From trees blackbirds explain
in glorious song their territorial rights.
A mallard beats a rival with his beak,
re-joins his pretty partner and they fly,
they and the rival. Jackdaws light and seek
what darkness hid, and find it now the sky
is filled with sun and sound. Old church bells ring
in another summer day this magic Spring.