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The Clock of the Long Now

I know what’s going down out there

from the apocalyptic sunsets lately

scraping the sky red and purple like

a bruised clavicle. It’s a tiny miniscule

bit of noise, but still: the litter of fences

and factories, the town seeping like a stain

into the surrounding fields. When Monet

couldn’t tolerate the incoherence

of the streets, he went back to painting

landscapes he would construct himself

just for the purpose of painting them.

And I’m telling the truth when I say

I’ve heard a guy busking on his guitar

in the strip mall outside the Goodwill

and next to the Food Lion. When I go in

for groceries, he’s singing “I have become

comfortably numb,” a little high and

a little sharp, and then when I come out,

he’s doing “Hallelujah,” and both of these

sentiments are simultaneously accurate:

DepressedBlessed would be the hashtag.

On the car radio today a woman lectured

about mid-life, told us to have goals, get

hobbies, create our own milestones

around athletics. I take notes on an

orange and yellow Virginia Lottery

Ticket with a stubby pencil: mark

boxes as shown ⌧. When my son

ate a pencil—colored, blue—his tongue

became an ocean of sorrow. A group

of sea otters resting together is called

a raft. You and I, we lashed whatever

we had in our pockets with string

and set the parcel gently on the sea.

I’ve heard the sounds of a waterfall

cascading from 148 speakers. I’ve

heard the cat crunching kibble and

the trees shushing the fields as I write this.

I’ve heard the rubber band that binds

us extricably to one another snap back

against our skin and leave a mark.

I’ve heard a car engine gasp, then

turn over in the parking lot of that

numb hallelujah strip mall and maybe

Monet was onto something. In his

Painting “Boulevard St. Denis, Argentuil,

Winter,” he captures the exact moment

the sun struggles to break through

a light snowfall. There’s a path, a fence,

a town; figures hurrying with umbrellas;

snow takes the edges off of most things;

but it’s the sun—the yellow light riveting,

sickly, the opposite of triumphant.

from Poetry Northwest 12.2 Winter & Spring 2018More by Erika Meitner from the library

Copyright © Erika Meitner
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.

Published in Erika Meitner Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.