I watched my old life go by like television.
Slopes of grass whipping against bright blue skies,
Objects some called tools
And others, totems.
A woodpile, a sheepskin,
Garlic curing from the rafters;
A river’s loose slaps upon slabs of warm rock.
“Secret spot” read the caption disseminated
Online. Coy copy. Cool
Said the flatlanders
Whose ranks I’d effectively joined.
While those I left drifted closer to one another
Or God, to the sources
Of life itself: children and dirt. Unkept
By the present tense, I was distant
In my watching,
An existence I too tendered stagily
As free. Like television,
I was buying
Whatever was for sale
As the appraisers said You don’t seem like you’re from there.
But I simmered in the grid
Of there’s off-the-grid life: the flowing virtue
Of verdant surfaces,
The cemented-down conclusion
That meaning must be near.
The siren song soft focus of my own
Slushy memories reenacted
By someone else.
Good enough I brushed their expiration from my view.
I watched the endless plot
Of daily benedictions over the land.
Any of you could feel
You were alive in its popular image.
Copyright © 2021 by Hanae Jonas. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 9, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.