Return tells the past
Only as seers tell the future,
Makes the placeless place,
Confabulates causes and
Consequence, makes a ghostly
Home. How much owning it
Owns you, how little
You can ever know.
Reiterated outposts of your
several selves, lost or forgot, or
going on without you, this pressed trail or
stacked askew in your way, all that paper
for a little ink and blood, not to be
saying things unsaid, such humid
oppression, the past that felt already
past at the time, the words wasted on work
that wasted you, how you pay its long bill,
how you try to make a past of the way
for lack of a sequel it wracks you now.
There are things between them that are things
on their minds—somewhere a beach, somewhere
a frozen pond. There are things they say,
they say to themselves things they don’t say,
there where the folded things are between
them, where there are things in the folds they’ve
put out of mind, things that have their own
lives there, groceries and lovers, sleep,
work, and lots nonetheless of wondering
why what occupies them occupies,
what else there might be past the fold where
there is only knowing things unknown,
where the gods that make are wooly mad,
they say, to give to take, to tick time
so, to wake us only when it’s gone.
It’s waiting and not knowing that’s the worst
that’s what people say in the in-between
to hope not knowing’s worse than what we’ll lose
to hold off what once known will be an end.
Waiting can make time slowly orbit round
where not knowing is something of relief
or cast the mind far out where it will drown
in dark futures that populate our sleep.
But knowing doesn’t cancel waiting out
when waiting’s filled with futures that have passed
filled up with what we do not want to know
a memory of worry that will last.
Even so, knowing can be worse than not
and waiting’s knowing if that’s all we’ve got.