Elemental

I brought what I knew about the world to my daily life
and it failed me. I brought senseless accidents
and a depravity sprung inside the jaw.
Also I brought what I had learned of love,
an air of swift entrance and exit, a belief in trouble
and desire. It will amount to something
I was told, and I was told to hold fast to decency,
to be spotlit and confident. I was told
next year’s words await another voice.
But you are a hard mouth to speak to
and if I write the list it will be free of constancy.
It will include fierce birds, false springs,
a few oil lamps that need quickly to be lit.
Also dusk and weeds and a sleep that permits
utter oblivion from our stranded century.
This is not a natural world, and if there are
recoveries from confusion, they pass like rains.
I don’t look to the robins for solace; neither do I trust
that to make an end is to make a beginning.
If we are not capable of company, we can at least
both touch the quartet inside evening,
the snow inside the willow, the bewildering kinship
of ice and sky. But as I walked
I saw crows ripping at shapes on the street,
a square of sunlight flare on the roof.
Take my hand, if only here and not in the time
that remains for us to spend together.
We will stand and watch the most delicate weathers
move, second by second, through the grim neighborhood.
I will lean into you, who have loved me in your way,
knowing where you are and what you care for.

Joanna Klink, "Elemental" from Excerpts from a Secret Prophecy.  Copyright © 2015 by Joanna Klink.  Reprinted by permission of Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
Source: Excerpts from a Secret Prophecy (Penguin Books, 2015)
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