18 January 2015

So the end of a rope frays

                                             Marianne Boruch


Some kid in the class,
a boy usually. Do we have to, Sister?
And the nun once: no. She turned and slowly no, you don't
have to do anything
but die.

A room's hush
is a kind of levitation. So the end of a rope frays. So mortality
presses its big thumb into clay early, 6th grade,
St. Eugene's School, mid-century.
It's a mudfest, ever after. Free, yay! Is what some heard
howbeit the gasp
primal, a descending, an unthinkable click.

Forget what she'd no doubt been
programmed to say, as postscript, as speaking of: but we live forever,
don't we, children? In God's sweet light?
She didn't. Too old, too mean, too tired, too smart, maybe shocked
at her own relish, her bite coming hard.
I'm just saying there are
charms on the bracelet from hell.

An ordinary question, the boy's whatever it was, and did we have to?
He was stunned. I could tell.
And he must have walked home in the falling leaves distracted,
disturbed, pushed off for a time
from the anthill.

As for the other ants, we had our work.
It gleamed like truth is said to, in the dark before us –
grains of edible filth or just
sand and splintered glass. To carry.
Carry it down.

From The American Poetry Review, November-December 2014.

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