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ant

Tonight, on my desktop,
four black ants scurry around.
How did you get up here, my little friends?
And what are you searching for so intently?

One by one, I urge them onto a sheet of paper
And lower them down to the floor.
Then I consider how fortunate it is
That I am large and they are small.

The ants with their steely black armor,
their locomotive legs and implacable will.
Me with my slow movements,
my soft meaty parts,  and sometimes,
my tender foolish heart.

In a few hours I’m heading up to Cambridge for the night, and then I’m off.

Whenever I fly, I think of this poem…one of my favorites:

Passengers
By Billy Collins

At the gate, I sit in a row of blue seats
with the possible company of my death,
this sprawling miscellany of people—
carry-on bags and paperbacks—

that could be gathered in a flash
into a band of pilgrims on the last open road.
Not that I think
if our plane crumpled into a mountain

we would all ascend together,
holding hands like a ring of skydivers,
into a sudden gasp of brightness,
or that there would be some common place

for us to reunite to jubilize the moment,
some spaceless, pillarless Greece
where we could, at the count of three,
toss our ashes into the sunny air.

It’s just that the way that man has his briefcase
so carefully arranged,
the way that girl is cooling her tea,
and the flow of the comb that woman

passes through her daughter’s hair…
and when you consider the altitude,
the secret parts of the engine,
and all the hard water and the deep canyons below…

well, I just think it would be good if one of us
maybe stood up and said a few words,
or, so as not to involve the police,
at least quietly wrote something down.

You can feel it in the air. Cooler nights and the whirring of late-summer insects whisper to us that the end of summer is coming. They remind us to pay attention. Because nothing lasts forever.

Ephemera

The boys have just left
leaving a trail of empty beer bottles in their wake.
Another summer (begun with such an illusion of abundance)
is winding down.

My parents’ home
where I spent my adolescence
is also about to pass away.
The antique hutch, the highboy, and all the knickknacks will soon disburse.
The photos of my young handsome parents
will be cherished a while longer, and then fade.

Even my pictures from Italy, taken last month!
In the past, they would have been carefully mounted in albums.
Now they will be posted on Face Book, or left in a file on the computer
till chance malfunction or indifference wipes them away.

All this falling, fading and ending is the nature of things.
But a philosophical shrug
fails to honor the end of things
that will never be again, in any form.

Sunday Night

The 11:45 sleeper train has pulled out of the station.
So, too, the 12:10, the 1:15, the 2:25 and the 3:30.

My husband departed promptly on the 12:45.
I gave a wistful wave
as he rumbled off down the track.

And still I wait alone on the platform,
surrounded by bags
stuffed with worry and exhaustion.

Monday night

The black-uniformed station master
leads me to the door
unnoticed in the wall.

It glides open, I step in
and descend silently into oblivion.

Only later in the night will I rise
and wander over to see what’s playing
in the theater of dreams.

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