“Maybe yes, maybe no. That is as far as the story goes, but you can imagine it going on to infinity.” – Pema Chodron
This might sound simple, but it isn’t.
Today I did not want to make the shroud
of sadness that’s come into our lives
feel any larger, if I could.
Today, in the course of going
about the daily “business,” I put on
dark plastic shades, opened my mouth
and let the dentist numb my gums
with a needle. Then I waited as he
scoured and filed the injured tooth
before fitting it with “a temporary.”
Later, I did my best not to drool
while eating a late breakfast
with my husband and daughter.
The light was brilliant and cold;
and the leaves in the square
were all nearly gone. There is nothing
we can do to fix some things which cannot
be fixed. The crown they’ll give my tooth
next Friday will be “the permanent,”
though we know nothing is. But there are
still things we can fix. When we take
our daughter to the mall to meet
her friends, I see a Mexican family
buying coffee and pastries at a kiosk.
On the escalator, a biracial couple laughs
quietly; they kiss. A young woman asks
someone for directions. My child
hugs her friends in greeting and I watch them
hug her back. From now on every moment
will be like this: looking for arms that will
hold us too, inside this trembling dome.
Here we are, and here
we will file into the fields
at dawn to make our voices known.
And if, according
to the strident dictates
of those grown blind on stupid
hate, we should have left
this world— We need only
to look at our hands and feel
the solid weight of every kind
of work we’ve done. Fish
we have fished for you,
chrome handle on the sides
of hotel doors and banks
with marble floors
we have opened for you
and the progress of others
who never saw us standing there.
Water we have filled
with tears and memories
of exhausted seafaring.
We should live out
this life and take from it
all grace that we can take
as far as humanly possible
and at the end say we will not
stumble, we refuse
to swing at the end of a rope…
Here we are where the century
has left us, where the future’s
impatient horse gallops in
from the far horizon and arrives
at the door of our homes, whinnying.