we just climbed. Reached the lip
and fell back, slipped
and started up again––
climbed to be climbing, sang
to be singing. It's just what we do.
No one bothered to analyze our blues
until everybody involved
was strung out or dead; to solve
everything that was happening
while it was happening
would have taken some serious opium.
Seriously: All wisdom
is afterthought, a sort of helpless relief.
So don't go thinking none of this grief
belongs to you: Even if
you don't know how it
feels to fall, you can get my drift;
and I, who live it
daily, have heard
that perfect word
enough to know just when
to use it––as in:
Oh hell. Hell, no.
this is hell.
Copyright © 2013 by Rita Dove. Originally published in Poet Lore. Used with the permission of the poet.