It doesn’t matter how much Van Morrison you listen to,
how many Museum of Fine Arts that you visit,
the shuttlecock of time comes down extraordinarily fast
and smashes you to pieces.
There was that time in Sag Harbor when we played badminton for hours
after a day at Windmill Beach.
The hot sweat, the cold Labatts.
That shuttlecock rifled its little plastic nub at us
but we had no idea that this would be the way of things.
Our children birthed, our parents on the way out.
Some days we’d put on Veedon Fleece to slow it down
but all of a sudden the kids were sixteen and kinda drunk.
We went to the Richter exhibit,
the Rothko retrospective—didn’t matter,
one mother slipped into dementia,
another father dead in the ground.
We ran to our record collections with our museum memberships
and threw Moondance at Monet,
Common One at Caravaggio.
The shuttlecock slammed into our faces saying, “Listen to us, listen up.”
And we did, the welts growing wider and faster, bumpier and pink.
Time just marched on.
The body began to sag in weird places—under the tongue,
between the ribs—
and then one day we woke and couldn’t drink beer anymore,
get those greasy fries from The Frye Shoppe.
Tonight, alone in our rocking chairs beneath a frozen moon,
we raided the radio for “Brown Eyed Girl,” for “Hyndford Street,”
and found both.
We turned up the dial to ten and walked outside.
But it was too late.
We had lost to the infinite joke of a freezing rain of shuttlecocks
that drove us back into our small rooms and stained white walls
littered with the posters of Picasso and Murray,
Hockney and Hopper,
and that one original Miro
hidden beneath the floorboards
so when the thieves came
there’d be something left.
Copyright © 2020 Matthew Lippman
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.