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FOUR-AND-A-HALF TO SIXTY-FOUR
 

If we could live our lives 
so that each moment 
is the culmination of all our moments,,

then someone writing, fat chance, 
our story could use 
that moment as a final sentence,

supposing, that is, he knew the straight 
skinny, which they rarely do, 
and even if they do

would we recognize our acts 
after the writer has misconstrued 
the significance of his noted facts?

Even for those who are on the lips 
of millions for generations, 
we know little of how they lived.

It's  morning time. Time to get up
he says to me, 
as I lie here supposing too much,

and I know it's time to brush my teeth 
and soap my balls and comb my clean 
wet hair while ignoring the mirror.

Suppose our work could live on 
after us. Would it be us? 
And as soon as what we make is gone

from our hands, our lips, our sight, 
it is no longer ours, those surviving words, 
but what others can make of it

to use or abuse for their own 
purposes, not what we thought 
we meant, or meant, at all-

and is any work the whole of us 
or its tangible consummation, supposing 
of course, the word could last past Saturday?

Obscurely, we live in remembrance 
a year or two. With a few 
we last until they die.

Let's make biscuits and gravy 
this morning, I say. 
See that wheat weaving on the wall.

If they grind those seeds 
between those hairs on the heads, 
it becomes this white poofy flour.

With baking powder, soda, and salt 
and each of us cutting-in Crisco 
with a fork and adding milk

how we live with pressure 
surrounding us always, pressing us 
always, despite being invisible.

He chooses to outline his hand 
and cut, for practice, around it with scissors 
and glue several together

to give to his mother-
that ancient desire for personal prowess 
like the handprints on the walls of Lascaux.

After that I tell him,
You can paint with your fingers, 
or we can play pick-up-sticks.

Then we water the flowers 
and fill the bird feeders with seeds, 
and he probingly plays with a long stick.

If, for some reason, I could live 
each moment as the culmination 
of my life and at the same moment

make it the first of a new life, 
if, as my mother says, I could build 
that kind and tender a character,

I would die an intelligent human being. 
But we have a whole day 
of happiness to accept.

and baking mounds of the goo in a pan, 
with bacon and eggs and strawberry jam, 
we can eat breakfast.

If we could live in such a way 
that every moment of our lives would be both 
the consummating, final moment

and, at the same time, 
the initial moment of a new life-
but that fantasy isn't possible.

One course recedes into the past-
a plot, a rhythm, a pattern. 
The other course leaps toward the future

searching for meaning, rarely 
looking back, the summary facts 
from others being prone to autopsy.

Today, I tell him, we will submerge, 
with toothpick struts, an avocado 
seed in water and see if it grows.

Today, we will make a parachute 
out of string, a hand a handkerchief, 
and a smooth stone you find in the drive.

And I will explain how the pressure 
of air can billow things up 
and rock them slowly to the earth,

And I have information, routines, 
consistency, and security 
to pass along in the midst

of uncertainty and mystery. 
The babies have left the bird house. 
A fly is difficult to swat.

And we have hands to wash 
and teeth to brush, here and now, 
and peeing to be done together

with comments on size 
and the difference between boys and girls 
before we lean back on pillows in bed

and listen to crickets and read several books 
with questions and comments 
on each limited page-

a happy satisfaction 
with what there is, 
as the nature of this day darkens into night.
 


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