The future not in high demand
last time I looked, selling short
in a frenzy of activity, traders not so sure
the future will arrive in decent shape,
worried it will be scorched by fire or
drenched in flood waters, worried
it might be virus ridden or tainted
with rage, long past the possibility
of compromise, each side so certain, fighting
for survival, firing epithets and vicious lies
destroying the little that is left
What if we see the future just ahead of us
yes, right there behind that row of junipers
or perhaps across the street, shuffling
along the sidewalk outside Target,
disheveled, limping, looking lost,
holding out a coffee cup, please
will we turn away, shame-faced, tucking
our heads into our hoodies or will we hurry
to catch up and hold the future in our arms
weeping for what we have done
and tending to the little that is left
We will go to Wellfleet this summer and laze
on the beach, cycle to the clam shack after
a leisurely swim, make sweet love at night
But here comes the hospice nurse with a tray of pills
in cute paper cups, pills he doesn’t really need
probably vitamins or fish oil or probiotics
He is plenty strong, pressed over a hundred pounds
was it just yesterday or maybe last year
and here is the ambulance that will take him to the ICU
Where he will read his novels and enjoy all the attention
and later I will bring shrimp scampi and a bottle of rosé
he is getting better, home for sure tomorrow
Even though the ICU won’t let me in
no doubt because they think I have a sniffle
the doctor asked if his “things” are in order
I think of his books lined up alphabetically,
his shirts perfectly folded, his careful balls
of matching socks and I say yes
He is getting better by the second
so many things for me to reshuffle to keep
this one fact standing
of the days, the months, even the years. At my age
(seventy-six or seventy-nine, please god not eighty),
no difference between a Tuesday and a Thursday.
Each day starts with Earl Grey and whole wheat toast,
ends with scrambled eggs or a cup of canned soup.
In between I read novels, but can’t remember who Margaret
is and why she is so angry at Gregg or what Sam is doing
in this story, maybe their son or her illicit lover. So I turn back
to chapter one, if I can find the book under a pillow or behind the couch.
The only day of the week I know for sure is Sunday
when the paper lies fat on my porch, and is filled
with even more bad news, but who can keep up?
Whatever happened to the Soviet Union, it’s fallen off
the map and when did South Sudan show up?
Yesterday a boy came to my door in a Dracula
costume, his sister dressed as a hideous witch, her face
painted neon green, her plastic pumpkin insisting.
Who ever heard of Halloween in August?
When I was six and learning to count, I could
count to eleven or thirteen and then got lost,
wandering somewhere between seventeen and twenty-two.
My mother let me to go back to the beginning
and start again.