Saturday, July 10, 2021

The Need to Move On

The graduates have learned to split atoms
and whisk paint brushes over fossilized bones

or maybe analyze why Napoleon was so paranoid and short.
Careers aside, the know they must cross the stage

as if walking the plank or crossing an ocean or bridge
that may or may not be the one too far.

The girlfriend has moved out of a shared apartment
to be with the minimalist who owns a loft in Soho.

The boyfriend isn’t surprised because she was always partial
to menstrual moons and the Utne Reader.

The artist paints in squiggles and makes love tepidly,
but she feels the need to load the freight elevator with IKEA,

and after all, Mercury is in retrograde,
or so says her astrologer, who claims the sky is always moving on.

The empty nest is just straw and a limp Star Wars poster,
so parents make a sewing room, a music room, an anything room

because the kids can flop on the couch over Thanksgiving
when they visit looking like stunt doubles from a Seth Rogen film.

And who knew what a bifurcated divorce was,
or the modern hieroglyphics of custody and alimony?

But the downtown suits, the sharks with serrated diplomas
insist that the heart cannot endure entropy,

that the fifth decade is usually when these things
tend to go down and suburban lawns are rolled into rugs.

And yet the couple setting their golden anniversary on fire
with panache has decided that they must buy a yacht

and sail for the cape down south after the cabinet below decks
has been loaded with liquor and a copy of the Kama Sutra.

Have you heard that Henry’s daughter has enrolled her father
in assisted living with yoga, origami, and speed dating?

Henry was the exception to the rule, was a paperweight of sorts,
but his daughter just cut her hair short because she turned thirty.

She told the afternoon wine and bridge club that the decades
won’t tolerate the possibility of loneliness or a broken hip.

“It’s a stepping stone,” she said, “and there’s no time like the present
to get our ducks in a row before they get crazy and fly,

or worse yet, get ambushed by the reaper in the blind.”
And so it goes, and then it goes some more.

It is afternoon, and I look at my leather skin and bones
in a mirror that has never witnessed yoga or origami

in its all-seeing eye of glass above the mahogany bureau.
I’m pretty satisfied. I’ve survived the trend to find trends

but know that before too long I will have to be seated,
unbutton my skin, remove and fold it, place it in a pine box,

and make peace with the sun falling over the horizon,
a hint rendered in whispers of the need to move on.

~William Hammett

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