Like raindrops running down a window pane
to gather in a puddle on the sill,
like yarn that’s knitted in a curly chain
to form a knotless cloth against the chill,
like beads pushed one by one upon a string,
together building jewelry out of spheres,
like minutes massing into months, that bring
us coursing through the incidental years,
so I need several days to form a trend.
The first a point, the next a line implies.
It takes a third to make the series bend,
and indicate where my intention lies.
I therefore name today the glad director
that indicates three days have formed a vector.
We talked at dinner of our gifted kids,
for we each have a pair, and sure they’re bright
as whips (who isn’t? child brilliance bids
in Berkeley for attention day and night).
Then I maintained I’m maybe just as smart
as mine or smarter, plenty smart enough
to guide them pulling artifice apart
(like raising me, but maybe not as rough).
Disdaining treatises I haven’t read
(for I don’t cotton to psychology
or critics’ words or “how to” books – instead,
I try to act from earnest memory),
when he said most of all we have to heed,
I countered: words from us are what they need.
As cool as foliage, this morning feels,
as sweet as cantaloupe and soft as fern.
I walk to downtown Berkeley and my heels
don’t ache, my neck is loose; I do not yearn
for anything beyond my sweatered reach.
Mature enough to misremember youth,
I watch my kids; I listen to their speech.
I laugh myself to work with broken tooth.
I’ll recollect this morning when I’m old.
I’ll reminisce about a sky still blue
as hyacinths, and space between the cars.
I’ll ache for now when summer’s never cold
at dawn, when height no longer makes a view,
when special refuse smudges out the stars.
He gave a book to me to garner him,
as if it were a key to read his heart,
as if it were a magic talisman
to treasure, that can pry the rocks apart
to plumb the reach of his intelligence
and measure metaphysic mystery,
to make of alchemy a seventh sense
and gaze at his elected history.
Four hundred heavy pages in my hand
for me to digest sentences each day:
I’m pulling at ideas to understand
the lesson and the learner. But dismay
with forty pages left is hard to brook,
and I may end the love before the book.
I watched a striving author try to write
a novel once, a score of years ago,
except his search for perfect title quite
disabled him. His opus wouldn’t grow
until he had initiated it
with words he mined, and screened, and analyzed.
Unless he found the phrase with perfect fit,
my sorry friend was dumb and paralyzed.
I think it would have been a better plan
for him to write the novel to its end,
and let it speak to him, as stories can
and feelings do, for if we can depend
on our experience for wise self-knowing,
be confident we don’t know where we’re going.
The escalator ribbons up, the while
a fellow stays in place by walking down.
He practices his rap and makes us smile
who weren’t yet awake enough to frown.
But here’s a BART announcement in the air:
The disembodied voice of civil patter
that tells him not to play that way – not there –
asserting that it’s just a safety matter.
Hello! I think, why speak aloud a lie?
He threatens neither self nor anyone.
We’ve half a dozen cops about, so why
attempt to stop this man from having fun?
He’s marching nowhere, making pretty sounds,
and it’s authority that’s out of bounds.
Acceleration, in the rodent race,
is treasured by electrons and by fuels
in oxidation, valued more by pace
than bullets, coveted as precious jewels.
The race is competition for an end
that no one known to any has acquired.
I watch somnambulating people spend
their decades in a rush to be retired.
And we adapt more readily than mice.
Minute adjustments modify the mix
so we can phone or text while driving. Twice
the work is done without attempt to fix
the base invasion: ivy-veined commute –
a labyrinth with cul-de-sacs at root.