To posterity

At the conference, during a break,
someone calls for a group picture.

The most famous writer, hair greying,
newly widowed and rumpled in khakis,

is led to the seat in the front row,
center. The woman who said earlier

in the day that she is a mystic
edges closer. And at the coffee

service, she said to you, her eyes
growing smaller: You shouldn’t try

so hard. Walking along the lake
on the side of the hotel, you’d found

the swans so tame they waited
to be fed pieces of bread left over

from the breakfast buffet. A man
expressed concern at this— at how

too much bread or grain could give them
angel wing: feathers sprouting sideways,

instead of following the supple length
of the body. You understand awkwardness;

deformity, however slight. You also get
how something clearly bad for you

can taste and smell so much better
than any ambiguous future no one

can see. And the photographer raises a hand,
says Smile, everyone: at the count of three.

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