Hesitating Once to Feel Glory

Sometimes I think we can see

the world before it began,

and that’s what makes us

so sad. Before the world began

there were swallows flying

across a lakeside field

as the sun allowed the trees to shade it.

There were leaves fallen

during dry seasons that made

a golden road. And there was

silver and stone and clover,

and a man on horseback

with a dog with no tail

that loped across the field

in a lazy semi-crescent as though

drawing the orbit of a small moon.

There was a burro

on a ten foot length of rope

stomping a dust patch in the earth.

And there were pelicans

with injured wings handfed

by a waiter and so many willows –

so many! growing by the water’s edge.

There was the clink of bottles

before the world began

and so its sound still

makes us melancholy

the way ice can, booming

on a river in spring

or tilling a glass in a woman’s hand.

Stones, too, uncovered from earth

pockmarked with clam houses,

and also clams. And pianos, there were

pianos, their cascade made us

restless – they could not offer

nuance greater than the half note.

Things kept coming

before the world began, and stacked

and tumbled over themselves

in drifts like snow,

insensible. The world

before the world was annotated,

expansive, all the stones

the boys could throw

never hesitating once to feel

glory, to feel jealousy,

boredom, and the nostalgia

the grass feels as it clambers

above itself, and loses

its former lives in the clean,

disintegrating thatch

and dust and clay.

The sadness of the alternate

armed rower, who walked his boat

to shore! The sadness of the far shore

and the thud of a foot against a ball,

the bent hook of wire hanging

from a tree’s lost branch stub,

the question in the ibis’ voice,

the sudden flash of a red bird

like a compass of ink in the brush.

Before the world began

there were bells that never

rang the correct time, and wings

and spheres of sad eggs in water.

The burrow walked in his circle

and the carpenter never saw

his children further

than 6th grade. He never

painted his room yellow or cooked

on anything but a burner

on a board. And the neighbour,

after the party, she never

gave the plate back though

she said she would,

she always said she would.

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