Thursday, June 23, 2011



"You, Lord, are my consolation. You are my eternal Father, but I am scattered in times whose order I do not understand." (St. Augustine, Confessions XI.xxix)

When I recited the lines
From the poem I learned
In college, in my mind I retrieved
The buried verses from the creaking
Card catalog drawer where I keep
Such things (next to the pile
Of assorted song lyrics from T.V. shows
I watched when I was six), and squinting
As I held the card at arm's length,
Began to speak someone else's words.
I recalled every word and every line
That followed, marching on the heels
Of the last: disciplined squads of poetry
Issuing from my tongue.

And all the while, pronouncing every
Syllabic combination, my memory pressed
The single image unified--the beginning and the
End and every sound between--upward
Through the murky haze of time
To be illumined briefly, wholly by the light.
To know the end before you reach it, to direct
Each aspiration toward the expectation,
And in the end, to see the expectation
Consumed, the action finished and enfolded
Into memory: This, we are told, is the life
Of a man, and of men, and of poems.

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