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Sport 7: Winter 1991

♣ Fay Zwicky — Starting over in autumn

page 49

Fay Zwicky

Starting over in autumn

Halfway wise when young,
who could foresee their stubborn mysteries,
their presumptions of innocence?

They intended to disappoint nobody.
Who could have warned them?
Who would have listened?

Can they imagine today what nobody knows,
the span of a human breath
coming and going?

He thinks she can.
She hopes he might.

And why, you ask, does the poet
(jotting under the broken angel's wing
at the bottom of the garden) sound off
such lamentatory alarms?

Observe the verdant celebrant in his hot suit.
He's not reading the sorrows of Job
unsuited to such modern occasions.
Is there anything you would like me to say?
He has a gold biro rolled behind his ear
for the record, smiles on the dotted line:
hello my friends
we are gathered...

page 50

What lasts is what they started with,
the faltering heart and something else.
Nothing won or absolutely lost,
still here imagining a place
where people work and pray and sleep,
the tender rituals of surrender.

Time has changed sides, no longer on theirs.
She almost knows.
He doesn't want to know and doesn't
know he doesn't.

The poet doesn't like those lines.
Forget the poet at the garden's end,
what he knows and can't forget.
He's called today a day like any other.

The earth's still green,
birds hop in the yard in hopeful rain,
the young still wait, gravid with yearning.

Pray for them, their children, and those birds.
Let them attend the grace of candour or whatever
waits behind the soul's clear windows.