What Everything Could Be
Everything must be better than it really is.
A young couple carelessly makes love
on top of their neatly made bed. They find
one clear moment, and afterward they feel
like they are the only animals on earth,
breathing and staring into each otherís eyes
in silence. Long minutes pass before she says,
I wonder how long Iíll remember this.
He has no answer. Forty years later, she is
dead and the question moot. It must be better.
The ambivalent loons that disappear beneath
the still surface of the lake must invent a world
better than this one in each murky dive,
must become birdfish waving feathered fins
and soaring down toward swimming prey.
Beauty must be a dark world as much as it is
a bright one. Imagine the lines of people
that met in bright sunlight on ancient Attic plains.
Imagine the silence between the lines beforehand
broken by chattering teeth from each phalanx.
Melancholy may very well inhabit the temple
of Delight, the wild West Wind may sound
the trumpet of a prophecy, and I may be
an organic harp. Yet I continue to grow old.
The music of the spheres may be a great symphony
of unbroken silence: void, more void, a crescendo
of void. The pinpricks of light against the black sky
may be the eyes of cold, distant gods. Somewhere
there must be music. Somewhere the lights must be
going out. When I was nine, I told my mother
how I had struck the devilís head while digging
in our backyard, how I had beaten him back to hell
with the shovelís face. You did? Well, thatís good,
she said, smiling. Then she sent me back outside
to play, to work, to make clouds bloom in the sky,
to watch the ground for sprouting horns and flame.
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