At the library,
I slip past books on the health shelf
and check out volumes of poetry.
I already know everything that can be known
about my heart and it doesn’t matter anyway.
I’m not one of those poets who ache
to stumble upon beauty or chop firewood
or conjure up words that heal. I do live simply,
but simply lack the strength to chop
even these sentences. It gets harder
to breathe every day. Poems help me think
of things that have happened to me:
waiting by the bedside while my best friend
died, or pushing against the world to deliver
my son. Or the night I pissed off my brother
when he was really pissed off at God
for the moral ambiguity in a life,
knowing that one’s best efforts may not
be good enough, the burden of relativity,
and not knowing so much more than we can know.
I loved the way, sweat-drunk, he raged
at me, and then at God, the furious anger, the sense
he truly was bereft and fearful that after all,
he would die and go to hell. After all our
suffering, we have no etiology for our lives.
Despite this, I question everything these days.
Shouldn’t we get smaller as we grow older,
and shouldn’t we disappear at death, not leave
a ruined body behind for others to grapple with?
I read poetry because I would rather sleep.
I believe I could sleep endlessly if allowed,
would die willingly for the rest,
but know that I live and must do something
however meaningless it may turn out to mean.
I’d like to be of use, but no longer knows what
use it is, only the waiting that we must do
at the bedside, the daily difficulty of waiting.