Mystery

 
"Try not to make too much of suffering."
Try not to make it into a profession."

~ Tony Hoagland, "The Classics"

Who could have imagined a life
compounded of ordinary errands
like going to the store for toilet

paper or diapers, then the doctor's
clinic for shots and prescriptions;

mornings of opening the refrigerator
to grab a sandwich for the day ahead;
dropping off one child at daycare

and the other at the public school--
And who could have told you of those 

clear, lucid moments between raking
the leaves and packing them into lawn
bags, between rolling the trash can

out to the curb and locking the gate
again; between walking in a daze
through rubble in the streets after

an earthquake to emptying your lungs
of what feels like decades of tears?
And you remember from long-ago

catechism that a decade is a mystery,
your fingers fumbling from one slow bead

to the next, each one seemingly
identical to the other but standing
for a different trial that must be  

borne. So yes, what happens to you has
and has not already happened before:

a debt paid off that comes back into
the ledger, numbers written on one side
in watery ink; tomorrow and tomorrow

and tomorrow whispering old promises
that you have no choice except to believe.  

 

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