- “Another Autumn Refrain” and “Two Thirds of a Second at the Center of the Universe”
Another Autumn Refrain
He kept trying to get it right, trying to catch That wisp of melody, that snatch of sound, listening And trying, like a man playing music, practicing scales;
He kept trying to remember, though it would not come, About the leaves and the ghosts hung in the trees, Trying to recall the closing cadences of a song
That started in his head again, again, again, About the light that came to him on autumn afternoons, About the weak sun that peeked around the branches;
He kept trying to remember or trying to forget, Though that insistent tune returned when he would That it would not, revolved, rephrased, a sibilance
Like the heavy wash of seashores in the distance, Like blood that rushes in the inner ear all night; He kept trying to get it right, though there was no right,
About the wind that whistled through the dry dead grass, The sap that sank below a brittle crust of frost, About the earth that spun and came again undone.
Two Thirds of a Second at the Center of the Universe
Still waiting, with less than no time to decide, You think almost nothing, you thought become a sense, Become an activity, a woman dancing, a sun rising, Become persistent voices washing over you once more As sea air might and with it the sound of waves; Still waiting, waiting, the tiny object unseen, The elusive blur that covers your whole ambition, As it has each day since you first conceived your task, First elected this improbable pursuit, with its boredom, Its mundane rehearsals and childish superstitions; Still waiting, one man at the center of the universe, Preparing a moment that can never be yours alone, The issue shared instead with ones who gather watching, Their faces drawn in distance to form a sort of landscape, Flames, say, licking the ridgeline of encircling hills; Still waiting, and they wait also, await the spectacle Of your deepest satisfaction, your most intimate defeat, Watching and waiting as you put them from your mind, As you hold or try to only the image of your attempt, Of what will be your substitute for every human act, A motion tinged with memory and its fond mutation; Waiting, and surely it will soon be taking place again, The instant out of time which you feel most yourself, In which hands clutch and hearts gorge with blood And sweat bursts out like condensation on ripe fruit, A fraction of a second happening once and forever, A stream descending, a horse running, a man striding, Now. You imagined the triumphant cries far away in your head Before you gasped, as in pain, betrayed, betrayed. Strike three, the umpire said.