That Which Waits

It slept inside me, unrocked by the motion of my body
Round the pivot of the sun, through the days and the years
Not wakened by the knife-sharp cries of a boy of three
Twisting on the lance-blade, hot bright pain in his ear
Sleeping through my puzzlement at the grownup tears
For a bullet in the brain in Dallas, death of a famous stranger
Yawning at my nauseated anger and disgusted fear
Of a short clever bully and his big, ox-dull drone
It showed no concern when I first set pen to page
In a stumbling unready try at trespassing over the lines
Patiently it slumbered through the clumsy cowering bumbles
Of an alien in love, giddy with the joyous pain
All through the young time it slept as the hot blood raced
In life-drunk forgetfulness down the canals of desire
Through the drug-sparkling Buddha-touched vision nights
When I peered into eternity, it smiled knowingly
As I passed from woman to woman and bed to bed unable
To find contentment in the arms of one, it did naught but wait
It gave a little shrug as my first daughter took her first breath
And winked at me as my father lay paralyzed and voiceless
Once on the highway as a drunken fool knocked me wildly
Through three lanes of heavy traffic, too shocked to be afraid
It woke briefly
Then settled back to sleep as I came safely to the shoulder
As I watched my male relatives succumb to stroke and failure
Of the heart, and blessed my own health, it rolled its eyes
Through the long burning birth of words through my brain
Into digital magical form, it hummed softly and did nothing
As my hair grayed, my joints stiffened, and my smile grew cynical,
Though my eyes lost no naïve sparkle, it nodded and watched
As the doctor confirmed that the family blight had not, after all,
Passed me by, and prescribed pills, it shook its head “not yet”
Not yet . . .
Not yet . . .
It has been with me, watching, waiting quietly from the first
As the end of the road is implied in its beginning
As January contains in itself the seed of December
It is my oldest companion, though hardly a friend
And I see it more and more behind my dreaming eyes
And I know it will be with me until the time comes
When at last another says
“He was.”


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