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Days I Delighted in Everything

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I was listening to a book on tape while driving
and when the author said, “Those days I delighted in everything,”
I pulled over and found a pencil and a parking ticket stub
because surely there was a passage of life where I thought
“These days I delight in everything,” right there in the
present, because they almost all feel like that now,
memory having markered only the outline while evaporating
the inner anxieties of earlier times. Did I not disparage
my body for years on end, for instance, although, in contrast
that younger one now strikes me as near-Olympian?
And the crushing preoccupations of that same younger self
might seem magically diluted, as though a dictator
in hindsight, had only been an overboard character — 
but not so. Where went the fear, dense as the sudden
dark in the woods, of being alone, or the bruise of 3:30 pm
in a silent apartment, when the disenfranchised live
only with the sunlight through the blinds, just prey
caught betwixt and between, and also heartbreak, and
again, heartbreak. I didn’t have whatever that time of life
then demanded — a book, a wedding band, a baby — 
but the present, like the lie of “fair and balanced” news reporting
where creationists are granted air time with the scientists,
the present might have me believe that “in those days
I delighted in everything.” But to be ... fair and balanced ...
I do trust the strict part of memory, the only archivist
to have savored a passage of time and have preserved it
with the translucent green hinges licked by stamp collectors,
attaching it without hurting it, so I wanted the quote
exactly, and go back to hunt and tag those months where I
delighted in everything — then I couldn’t find the ticket stub.
I rummaged through the recycling but no luck, and I
couldn’t go back to find the passage on tape, and then I realized
I had bought the book for my husband, so I started leafing through it,
not wanting to start too far back, and not wanting
my eyes to fall on a passage in the future, the one where
she realizes that “Those days I delighted in everything,”
but it was never to happen again, just the present, from here on in.

Source: Poetry (October 2016)

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This poem originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Poetry magazine

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Days I Delighted in Everything

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