General Poems

In a Time of Illness

for Ann

Aunt Biddy, yes, we are all “lovely, limited creatures.”
We have such strength together that we think we can
Accomplish anything alone. We can’t. Yet each
Of us aspire to individual heroics,
Destined for a failure. Learning this, it is
At first a terrifying knowledge, and we ask
Ourselves, as Goethe’s Werther did, “How can I go
On living without going mad?” The terror must
Be turned around to calmer thoughts of coalition.
Otherwise, a suffocating loneliness
Encases mind and soul in living tombs, cut off
From all communication. Bonds of friendship turn
These mausoleums into monuments of hope.

This afternoon we sit beside my monument,
My Taj Mahal, and watch the crowds of tourists stroll
In circles, taking pictures, telling jokes. They wave
To me and mimic cutting motions with their hands,
As I lean forward, snipping blades of cool, green grass
With ornate scissors you once found in Chinatown.


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