My parents-in-law watched the baby yesterday. While they’ve done this tons of times for us, I think it was the first time I was A) alone, and B) didn’t have some ridiculous insurance mish-mash or other I had to use that baby-free time to straighten out. So I went to get coffee and read the March issue of Poetry, to which Marshall had subscribed me for Christmas. (syntax?) It was so, so lovely. Unlike the February issue—was utterly underwhelmed—what do you call that kind of post-postmodern poetry that reads like Berryman but is way less coherent/interesting/more fragmented/cryptic, drops words like “meniscus” and “trenchant” into whichever random stanza where they bob around like eyeballs, and is so self-conscious you can hardly summon the energy to connect the threads (partly because the point is that the threads will not connect)? the February issue had mostly those.

If it sounds like I’m just jealous—draw your own conclusions.

Regardless, I have actually loved several of the poems in the March issue, and I didn’t even get past the first 5 or 6! I thought I would share two of them.

Edit: I just realized both poems I’m posting today have echoes of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, one of my favorite poems of all time. Huh!

*     *     *

Miller Williams

Small fact and fingers and farthest one from me,
a hand’s width and two generations away,
in this still present I am fifty-three.
You are not yet a full day.

When I am sixty-three, when you are ten,
and you are neither closer nor as far,
your arms will fill with what you know by then,
the arithmetic and love we do and are.

When I by blood and luck am eighty-six
and you are some place else and thirty-three
believing in sex and god and politics
with children who look not at all like me,

some time I know you will have read them this
so they will know I love them and say so
and love their mother. Child, whatever is
is always or never was. Long ago,

a day I watched a while beside your bed,
I wrote this down, a thing that might be kept
a while, to tell you what I would have said
when you were who knows what and I was dead
which is I stood and loved you while you slept.

— Poetry, January 1985