After a Greek Proverb

By A. E. Stallings b. 1968

Ουδέν μονιμότερον του προσωρινού

We’re here for the time being, I answer to the query—
Just for a couple of years, we said, a dozen years back.
Nothing is more permanent than the temporary.

We dine sitting on folding chairs—they were cheap but cheery.
We’ve taped the broken window pane. tv’s still out of whack.
We’re here for the time being, I answer to the query.

When we crossed the water, we only brought what we could carry,
But there are always boxes that you never do unpack.
Nothing is more permanent than the temporary.

Sometimes when I’m feeling weepy, you propose a theory:
Nostalgia and tear gas have the same acrid smack.
We’re here for the time being, I answer to the query—

We stash bones in the closet when we don’t have time to bury,
Stuff receipts in envelopes, file papers in a stack.
Nothing is more permanent than the temporary.

Twelve years now and we’re still eating off the ordinary:
We left our wedding china behind, afraid that it might crack.
We’re here for the time being, we answer to the query,
But nothing is more permanent than the temporary.


Source: Poetry (January 2012).

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This poem originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

January 2012
 A. E. Stallings

Biography

A. E. (Alicia) Stallings studied classics in Athens, Georgia and has lived since 1999 in Athens, Greece. She has published three books of poetry, Archaic Smile (1999), which won the Richard Wilbur Award; Hapax (2000); and Olives (2012). Her new verse translation of Lucretius (in rhyming fourteeners!), The Nature of Things, is published by Penguin Classics. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Marriage & Companionship, Time & Brevity

Poetic Terms Villanelle

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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