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The Infinite Joke of a Freezing Rain of Shuttlecocks

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.

Nothing helped.

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.

from Mesmerizing Sadly BeautifulFind more by Matthew Lippman at the library

Copyright © 2020 Matthew Lippman
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Published in Matthew Lippman 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.