So Be It

Jim Moore - 1943-

If the neighbor’s roof is a shamble of broken tiles, so be it.

If those tiles sit there for weeks. If no one does a thing about them.

If the sky is gray day after day and then snow falls and the tiles turn into
fragments of a broken alphabet traced in snow, clinging.

Darkness, then dawn.

If beauty, as hoped for; if death as promised.

There is no reason not to say it: the woman with her head bent, reading, is
beautiful.

The train rocks beneath her, but she mostly sits in stillness.

A slight trembling of the page betrays the truth of things.

Meanwhile, a window above her bent head. A river and a bridge, a sky
darkening just beyond the window.

The bridge and the sky, the slight blue of a river: a world beautiful beyond
our understanding.

No reason not to say it: the woman will look up from her book, from the calm
page, from the story not her own.

In due course will suffer before she dies.

The small blue relief of the river is a darkening song without end.

More by Jim Moore

Almost Sixty

1

    No, I don't know

the way to get there.
    Two empty suitcases sit in the corner,
if that's any kind of clue.

2

    This spring night,

everyone at the party
    younger than me
except for one man.
    We give each other the secret password.

3

    Tears? Of course, but also the marsh grass

near the Mississippi:
    your whispers and mine,
and the dog's long contented sighs.

Twenty Questions

Did I forget to look at the sky this morning
when I first woke up? Did I miss the willow tree?
The white gravel road that goes up from the cemetery,
but to where? And the abandoned house on the hill, did it get
even a moment? Did I notice the small clouds so slowly
moving away? And did I think of the right hand
of God? What if it is a slow cloud descending
on earth as rain? As snow? As shade? Don't you think
I should move on to the mop? How it just sits there, too often
unused? And the stolen rose on its stem?
Why would I write a poem without one?
Wouldn't it be wrong not to mention joy? Sadness,
its sleepy-eyed twin? If I'd caught the boat
to Mykonos that time when I was nineteen
would the moon have risen out of the sea
and shone on my life so clearly
I would have loved it
just as it was? Is the boat
still in the harbor, pointing
in the direction of the open sea? Am I
still nineteen? Going in or going out,
can I let the tide make of me
what it must? Did I already ask that?

Diptych: My Bracelet

1

Before going to bed I take off my bracelet. It is meant to protect me. A dancer gave it to me: for decades she has known sorrow and beauty. Beloveds have come and gone. Mountains and forest fires. Lives that might have lived through her, but didn’t. Lives that do still live through her. I go to sleep, protected by her love, even though now my wrist is naked. All of you who have lived with the mysterious succession of love and grief, of dogs and dances, of yoga and tears: all of you will know just what I mean.


2

There is sunlight and a staircase ending at the sky. There are electrical wires, a black cable. Then the sound of the train going away. There is my bracelet made of jasper that Peggy made for me. The river and the sweetness of going down to the river. There is all that darkness rushing under the arches of the old stone bridge. The waiting darkness. The patience. There is the going away: let’s get that straight once and for all. And the new waitress, her hand shaking, the tattoo pulsing at her neck, “And stray impassioned in the littering leaves.”