The old kitten is replaced by a new baby kitten the old dog by a new pup like a dead Monday by Tuesday. They stroke the new kitten in their laps so that their excess affection won't go sour, so that it will love them in return, like the old one did. But for me they aren't replaceable, not the kitten, not the Monday, not anything else; for me they never die. They only distance themselves, or dwell in me disappearing into the distance: they dwell in my heart and ears, like the Moonlight Sonata dwells in a piano. Gone? No new rain rinses the shower-scent of an old Monday from me, no matter how hard it pours, hisses, streams. Ridiculous, maybe, but it feels good to me, like an old stone in the cemetery, on which a bird might drop its feather. Out there in the City Park and everywhere, where forgetting fattens fresh ice, how many, attentively oblivious, are skating! I understand them, that on slippery ground they alone possess life while living, as long as is possible, and as best as is possible. But for me easy grief's loathsome, and the easy solace of what's easily replaced; if I'm no more, they'll replace me soon. I know, if I'm no more, they'll have someone else, who'll lie in their beds for me, pant, talk, suffer, love. But why shouldn't it be this way? It might need to be this way— why expect the unexpectable, the too hard, the too much?... I understand. And yet, for me, it's irreplaceable and what used to be dear doesn't stop being dear. And it is still too early to love the new kitten. I don't put it in my lap, because the old one's absence still burns there. I know if I'm no more, there'll be someone else.
Little Night Prayer
Lord, I'm tired, the bunion on my right foot is throbbing, I worry about myself. Who is this anguished man, Lord? it can't be me, so woeful and sluggish. I would like to trust quietly, but like waves in the ocean, tempers bubble up in me. I try a smile, but some hairdespair impedes me. This isn't all right, Lord, feel pity for me, be scared, reward my endeavors. Evaluate things with me, delete with my own hand what isn't needed. Taste with me what needs to be tasted, and say to me: this is sweet! this is sour! Remind me of the small red car, of something that was good. There was a lot that was good, wasn't there? a lot of sunken islands, crumbled glamour. Place a net into my hands to fish with, in the past and in the present. I'm a fish too, in the night, puckering silver, bubble-lifed. Turn me inside out, freshen me up, throw me up high and catch me! What's it to you, Lord? If you must, lay down your cards, show me something new. How your leaves fall! your sun scorches your wind whistles. Speak to me! Talk with me through the night, it's nothing to you, Lord!