Chronic

By D. A. Powell b. 1963
were lifted over the valley, its steepling dustdevils
the redwinged blackbirds convened
vibrant arc their swift, their dive against the filmy, the finite air
 
the profession of absence, of being absented, a lifting skyward
then gone
the moment of flight: another resignation from the sweep of earth
 
jackrabbit, swallowtail, harlequin duck: believe in this refuge
vivid tips of oleander
white and red perimeters where no perimeter should be
 
 
 
               here is another in my long list of asides:
why have I never had a clock that actually gained time?
that apparatus, which measures out the minutes, is our own image
                         forever losing
 
and so the delicate, unfixed condition of love, the treacherous body
the unsettling state of creation and how we have damaged—
isn’t one a suitable lens through which to see another:
               filter the body, filter the mind, filter the resilient land
 
 
 
and by resilient I mean which holds
              which tolerates the inconstant lover, the pitiful treatment
the experiment, the untried & untrue, the last stab at wellness
 
choose your own adventure: drug failure or organ failure
cataclysmic climate change
or something akin to what’s killing bees—colony collapse
 
more like us than we’d allow, this wondrous swatch of rough
 
 
 
why do I need to say the toads and moor and clouds—
in a spring of misunderstanding, I took the cricket’s sound
 
and delight I took in the sex of every season, the tumble on moss
the loud company of musicians, the shy young bookseller
anonymous voices that beckoned to ramble
             to be picked from the crepuscule at the forest’s edge
 
until the nocturnal animals crept forth
             their eyes like the lamps in store windows
                          forgotten, vaguely firing a desire for home
 
hence, the body’s burden, its resolute campaign:  trudge on
 
and if the war does not shake us from our quietude, nothing will
 
I carry the same baffled heart I have always carried
             a bit more battered than before, a bit less joy
for I see the difficult charge of living in this declining sphere
 
 
 
by the open air, I swore out my list of pleasures:
sprig of lilac, scent of pine
the sparrows bathing in the drainage ditch, their song
 
the lusty thoughts in spring as the yellow violets bloom
              and the cherry forms its first full buds
the tonic cords along the legs and arms of youth
              and youth passing into maturity, ripening its flesh
growing softer, less unattainable, ruddy and spotted plum
 
 
 
daily, I mistake—there was a medication I forgot to take
there was a man who gave himself, decently, to me & I refused him
 
in a protracted stillness, I saw that heron I didn’t wish to disturb
was clearly a white sack caught in the redbud’s limbs
 
I did not comprehend desire as a deadly force until—
              daylight, don’t leave me now, I haven’t done with you—
                            nor that, in this late hour, we still cannot make peace
 
 
 
if I, inconsequential being that I am, forsake all others
how many others correspondingly forsake this world
 
 
 
               light, light: do not go
I sing you this song and I will sing another as well
 
 
 


D.A. Powell, "Chronic" from Chronic. Copyright © 2009 by D.A. Powell.  Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press.

Source: Chronic (Graywolf Press, 2009)

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Poet D. A. Powell b. 1963

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Living, Life Choices, The Body, Time & Brevity, Love, Realistic & Complicated

 D. A. Powell

Biography

Born in Albany, Georgia, D.A. Powell earned an MA at Sonoma State University and an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His first three collections of poetry, Tea, (1998), Lunch (2000), and Cocktails (2004), are considered by some to be a trilogy on the AIDS epidemic. Lunch was a finalist for the National Poetry Series, and Cocktails was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. His next two books were . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Life Choices, The Body, Time & Brevity, Love, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

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