L'Avenir est Quelque Chose
All day for too long
everything I’ve thought to say
has been about umbrellas,
how I can’t remember how
I came to possess whatever weird one
I find in my hand, like now,
how they hang there on brass hooks
in the closet like failed actors,
each one tiny or too huge,
like ideas, always needing
to be shaken off and folded up
before we can properly forget them on the train.
Most of my predictions are honestly
just hopes: a sudden sundress in March,
regime change in the North, the one where Amanda
wins the big book award from the baby boomers.
There’s that green and white umbrella
the cereal company interns handed us
outside the doomed ball game,
the one just for sun,
the one with the wooden handle
as crooked as the future
that terrifies me whenever one of us uses it
as a stand-in for a dance partner.
You once opened it in the living room
so Scarlett could have a picnic
beneath something that felt to her like a tent
as it felt to me like my prediction
we would live forever was already true.
When I want to try to understand now
I tend to look up and how
truth be untold, I might see nothing
more than a few thousand pinholes in black nylon,
it’s enough to get you to Greece and back,
or something to kiss beneath,
who knows how this is going to play out?
I know you won’t ever be able to say
exactly what you’re feeling either,
the way worry might pop open overhead
like fireworks oozing pure midnight —
will we ever see the sun? —
the way we’re sure to pull closer
to whatever’s between us, the rain playing
the drum that’s suddenly us.
"'Rather than approaching a new poem as if it might be your last, try approaching it as if it’s simply your next.' I had scribbled this advice to myself in my notebook just before I wrote this poem. It was a cold and rainy day in Minneapolis. The future seemed impossible. I grabbed the first thing I could find nearest the door."