The Safe Years
The safe years are behind us now,
So prepare for what will come to us
She said, and the wind
Blew sage brush and ash
Around our table, where
A woman with red lipstick
Served green tea – the room
Moved to another room,
Time became Augustinian,
Difficult, and rough-hewn,
Feeling emotional, as it would.
We have no way to exist after dying ?
Fame or memory are only conceits ?
The years advance, and decline as one.
As paddles raised to tell pilots to fly
Then drop down with the same arm
And Seneca took his own life;
Kings wanted sons; wanted a line.
No lines supply the ones behind enemy
Lines, which is where all bodies are.
Yes, man and woman dining in the cafe,
You are fighting, not with each other,
Not, as you think, because of infertility,
Those fears and lost things, little dreams,
Fripperies that perform the shape of hoping
(We fumble about with little dreams
Of simple things, like baby showers,
Graduation gowns; arms flung to say Mom,
Dad) you’re fighting with the body itself,
With some mechanical decision made, as if
By accident, but rational no doubt,
Something genetic, some blockage, a
Clicking off or on of some chemistry
That means your plane will not land.
It started on a fine day, blown apart,
Your heart like a storm blows up from
A fine day, will go on over the desert,
Until it ceases, and you and your wife
Are buried together, childless, collected:
Calm in love’s entire silence, entire end.
from When All My Disappointments Came at Once (Tightrope Books, 2012), © Todd Swift, 2012), used by permission of the author