Vita Brevis

What they say of beauty
is that it never makes apology
for itself— But isn’t this true
as well for plainness, for calamity,
for sorrow, for disappointment?

Here is a jar of coins
I’ve rescued through the months
from coat pockets, from the lint
trap in the laundry, from the folds
and linings of our purses.

What can you buy with a roll
of pennies these days, with a hand-
ful of crumpled bills? Come then, let’s lay
the good china on the table, the silverware,
the napkins; let’s feast on what we have.

I used to draw up columns in a ledger:
for every purchase, a sacrifice
forestalling each small pleasure
for the days— I rue now how
I used to only say don’t get

too happy: don’t rest, don’t choose
the window light, the comfort of the armchair
with the pillows; don’t put the little sweet
into your mouth. Too dear, too rapidly,
the dwindling days don’t know delay.


In response to Via Negativa: Sacrificial.

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