Evening Poetry, November 17

The Slip

by Rachel Hadas

Empty and trembling, haloed by absences,

whooshings, invisible leave-takings, finishes,

images, closure: departures so gracefully

practice their gestures that when they do happen,

dazzled with sunlight, distracted by darkness,

mercifully often we miss the event.

So many hours, days, weeks, years, and decades,

spent–no, slathered and lavished and squandered

ardently, avidly gazing at nothing,

pacing the pavement or peering round corners,

setting the table and sniffing the twilight,

sitting and gazing at edges, horizons,

preparing occasions that leave us exhausted,

recovering, staggering back to a climax.

Dramas of use, inanition, repletion!

And there all along, except not there forever,

was the beloved. The foreground? The background?

Thoughtful, impatient, affectionate, angry,

tired, distracted, preoccupied, human,

part of our lives past quotidian limits,

there all the while and yet not there forever.

You can find this poem in Halfway Down the Hall.