Published on Academy of American Poets (


At the time the time felt well spent but now
I see it was wasted. Not a waste—it just had
no point—no shape—no hourglass’ tapering
waist. At a certain point, bliss gets replaced
by disinterest. If you will allow me for once
to be honest. I left the sea’s lacy wake, waking
each day well-rested, untested, unmet. Nothing
was going to change, and that was the point.
The seabirds sang: Protect your gifts! burying
their doomed eggs in the sand—sand to heat,
to melt, shape into that chalice of time: bulb
upon bulb, curvaceous, urgent as an aging
odalisque. It was a version of love not meant
to set—the best—not trashed, but wholly left
to the mists of that idly mown lawn, the little
boat trolling a coast, bereft of tide or tempest.


Copyright © 2016 by Nathaniel Bellows. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 14, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“‘Employment’ explores the idea of time well spent, particularly as it relates to making art. Will personal drive always be at odds with contentment? Is peace the enemy of ambition?”
—Nathaniel Bellows


Nathaniel Bellows

Nathaniel Bellows is the author of Why Speak? (W. W. Norton, 2007). 

Date Published: 2016-07-14

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