May 17, 2024 Poetry

It Will Come Back, Distant Music, Transient Stroke, Basic Math

It Will Come Back, Distant Music, Transient Stroke, Basic Math Artwork by DALLE
 It Will Come Back
we say (fingers crossed,
knock on wood, salt over shoulder)
because it always has,
because we don’t know what we’ll do
if it doesn’t.
Spring, missing pets, the stock market,
sox lost in the dryer,
all are consigned to that suspended
realm somewhere in blank space
where time holds its breath.
It’s a matter of faith in the vagaries
of how things work we don’t control,
part of the theology of unseen forces,
the myth of eternal return.

Basic Math
At first it’s all addition –
growing a body up and out,
a twelve year stint at adding brains.
The rest piles on in swift succession:
job training, career, the first apartment,
before you know it, spouse and kids.
At middle age the balance sheet
swells and shrinks with births and deaths,
economic boom and crash
until the years signal reverse.
The rest of life is all subtraction –
the empty nest, retirement home,
blank days filled with minuses.
In old age we’re doomed to play
that childhood game of take away.

Distant Music
The pianist’s dazzling artistry
caught in an old recording
shimmers across half a century,
Hearing the glistening scales,
the subtle poetry of phrasing,
I feel the chill of loss settle
over that lilting sound
like a lamentation.
His hands, now gone to age
and stroke, once owned that power
as the flesh and bones
that danced with his lively mind.
He will not mourn the toll
but revels in the lasting joy
of that perfection.
Yes! Yes! he boasts,
I was once that.

Transient Stroke
How suddenly the body slips away
as we watch it go,
horrified as it wanders off
against our will, without warning.
Muscles go slack as though released
from the prison of our thought.
We stand mute as body and mind
separate like continents adrift,
and learn how short the distance is
between upright and prone.