ON LEAVING EARLY

for Adam

To die young is to be spared everything

                 beginning with your own father

                 who does not spare you

                 the weight of his head laid down

                 to test your pulseless chest

and to die young is to be spared nothing,

                to inherit none

                of the slower raptures:

                to sow no quickening

                and never to wake

                your first or any love.

 

LETTER TO RUSSELL

The hand that cannot reach the phone

does not necessarily clutch the chest

and chances are the late husband

is taking his time, still untaken by time.

I know all this.

I know that fever ripples kids’ dreams

and then they wake, no wake required;

that the human norm is growing old

in a world reluctant to end.

. . .

Yet I tend to say goodbye to it all

before fear has even balled his hand

to knock hard on the door. Let me

ask you this: is it catastrophizing

if grief precedes alarm, if I land

at the imaginary end

and stage my worries in reverse,

snapping loss unpunctually

across the strophe’s knee? Let me ask:

is it magical thinking if I cannot spell out

the everything

I would compel a willing God to spare?

 

Jane Zwart teaches English at Calvin University, where she also co-directs the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing. Her poems have previously appeared in Poetry, TriQuarterly, and The Poetry Review, as well as other journals and magazines.

ISSN 2632-4423

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