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The Moment

Blue gray, damp, vague—September
morning is banal with small desires: sleep,
hunger, self-doubt's rehearsals. Where
to plant the butterfly bush, the new
dogwood, the aster you want to bloom
this fall? Should you have written that letter
or held your tongue, allowed the friendship
to lapse? In August wildflowers along all
the roads are yellow, gold: pale mullein,
goldenrod, black-eyed Susan's blaze:

summer's end catches fire. You begin
to see there's something you won't have;
you want it still. You watch the neighbors
do what they do every morning; you don't
know why they do it, but the recurrence,
like a dream's landscape, reassures: a known
structure against which mysteries are enacted,
the self you are becoming written into being.
How do you know if any moment of grief
is pure? Mourning is shot through with self.
You long for time, not patience. In five years,
the dogwood will bloom profusely.

This poem originally ran in the January 15, 2011, issue of the magazine.