Anniversaries

for Don and Henrie Gordon

Forty-odd years ago—
Headlines in the snow—
The jobless scrawled a text for mutineers;
Then history seemed sane,
Though Franco sailed for Spain
And Hitler swore to live a thousand years.

Now Progress, his machine,
Makes water out of wine;
With loaves and paper stuffs the multitude;
For power he milks the sun
To see the cities flame
And drives the Goddess from the sacred wood.

Yet anniversaries
Should have our praise, as trees
Salute the queenly coming of the Spring.
All sacred marriages
Keep evergreen in this:
Coupling with Time, they bind him in a ring.

Though time turns, history moves
As if to prove our loves,
Having no pattern but the one we give.
While countries bleed and burn
Not any shall sleep warm
Unless, good friends, you teach us how to live.

Some nine and forty years,
A pulse-beat of the stars,
Astounds the May Fly’s million generations.
Your middle style of Time
Is suited most to man.
This whispering wrist sustains the dream of nations.

Thomas McGrath, “Anniversaries” from Selected Poems 1938-1988. Copyright � 1988 by Thomas McGrath. Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.
Source: Selected Poems 1938-1988 (1988)
More Poems by Thomas McGrath