The Age We Are

standing on shoulders

“Toss the word rain to her,” he says.
I do and she catches it
on the chin. Drenched, she climbs aboard
his shoulders and returns six drops
to the sky. A boy cheers
as his dog digs in the sand
for a smell long severed
from its host. Wild-eyed,
the two wear matching
grins on faces bright
enough to kill
or ignite
or like us
both. We try on hats
now that we see
we could have worn them
all along. Felt
and ribbon and feather, like the grandfathers
of other people whose everyday
days are like our holidays.
Our patriarchs wiped sweat
from their wrists with stained handkerchiefs
before their fingers slipped.
Some had one arm
from forgetting this. Some left our mothers
orphans even after returning intact
from war. We never hear the ones still here
say, It comes to this?
That’s some sick joke

because they only whisper such things
to a sagging ceiling, the most sympathetic ear
for miles. I toss the word blindness
next time
but no one sees it land.


Image: Justin Brown Durand, “careful now, don’t let me fall”

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5 thoughts on “The Age We Are”

  1. The truth is dark under your eyelids.
    What are you going to do about it?
    The birds are silent; there’s no one to ask.
    All day long you’ll squint at the gray sky.
    When the wind blows you’ll shiver like straw.

    A meek little lamb you grew your wool
    Till they came after you with huge shears.
    Flies hovered over open mouth,
    Then they, too, flew off like the leaves,
    The bare branches reached after them in vain.

    Winter coming. Like the last heroic soldier
    Of a defeated army, you’ll stay at your post,
    Head bared to the first snow flake.
    Till a neighbor comes to yell at you,
    You’re crazier than the weather, Charlie.

    -charles simic’s against winter

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