Waiting

How much time now have you spent
waiting: for someone to respond

to the urgent letter; for the missing
heirloom to turn up wrapped in a piece
of clothing. For someone to finally

mend the sagging fence, for the phone
to ring. It’s difficult to study or nap

or eat a healthy salad or even get
distracted by TV or books— You go
to the grocery store and stand

in the middle of islands of summer
fruit and vegetables, but your thoughts

are elsewhere. In the yard, some insect
has started to chew on a leaf that’s barely
pushed its green out of the soil. You

want to say Who are you and why
don’t you give the poor thing a chance?

You’re tempted to sit by the terra cotta pot

and wait for the culprit to rear its slimy head.
But the mornings are always a room across which

the sun’s shadow is so rapidly passing
to remind you of time. You don’t know when
to begin unfastening your heart from the hours,

you don’t know how to gather its trembling
flowers to put in a vase at the bedside

of the one in pain— the one waking up
from being cut open by a scalpel; or the one
far away in a country of terrible, unceasing rain.

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