Birth Chart

to Simone

Wandering off under those astrological signs
charted just for you, my quiet trekker—all
those houses & planets so perfectly straight-faced
but still baffling at birth—don't think badly
of me when I'm dead & you've gone deep
into the distance of love tangles, moneyed
interests, & old-fashioned commutes—into life
in other words—I did what I could for you, knowing
it might not be enough—I see now that I can't
save you from suffering, & trying to hurts
if I'm not kind. Tho I still want your life to be
untroubled, & am afraid for you, a fear made
out of my own fear of a future I can't control—
the world so often a human heart that eats itself—
places like New Orleans the Swat Valley Fukushima—
the names of those remote destinations for film crews
and symposium panels are places people die
native to those regions & out to kill or defend
life from itself—there is so much misery there
that refuses to call itself misery & that sees itself
instead as the unimpeachable power of a righteous day.
And there are criminals & dunces elsewhere—
hideous partyline whips, Saxon in outlook
and proud of it—there are the bodysnatched
and the inane candy-stripers & the greedy
and the martini narcissists high on the rising year—
but let's take the long view: these are not
your true companions, & out of my reach your
life will make itself in struggle & love perhaps
dependent on the strength that will come
if I only let go when you step out the door
as hazel-eyed now as always & maybe more so
this morning in slate-gray Gore-Tex.

David Rivard, "Birth Chart" from Standoff. Copyright © 2016 by David Rivard.  Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press,
Source: Standoff (Graywolf Press, 2016)
More Poems by David Rivard