Memorial Day

This poem came to me from The Paris Review, sent as part of their daily email awhile ago. Somehow it seems apt for Memorial Day.

The Dirt and the Willow

All summer long
while other trees
reached for more
light the willow
unfurled streamers
down into its own
streetwise shade
lower and slower
until the silvery
tip of its lowest
leaf had reached
the limit set to
its inverted growth:
dirt’s intractable
horizontality

Enough it thought
if willows think
these accretions
are taking me
nowhere
Whereupon
it came to its annual
decision to drop
everything it was

doing and dieJust try
the dirt wisecracked
not unkindly but
the willow was
aquiver with indignant
self-pity and wouldn’t
sit still for such “sitcom
optimism

It’s easy
for tombs to talk
about eternal recurrence
to equate one string
of proteins with another
the wailing child
and the ailing mother
tombs have nothing
to lose o what’s the use
you’ll never understand

On the contrary said the dirt
that’s what I do best
now why don’t you just rest

 

Tom Disch  (this link takes you to a remembrance of the poet by Dana Gioia)

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