In a Landscape: IV

John Gallaher

Now the scene changes, we say, and the next few years
are quiet.  Itís another curse, the inverse of the ďinteresting timesĒ
the Chinese were said to go on so about.  Nevertheless, there it is,
as the emptiness needs a something in order to be defined as empty,
which means we spend the next few years talking about other years,
as if thatís whatís important.  Maybe that is whatís important.  It was terrible,
the hospital stay.  The children.  Not the children in the abstract way,
but those times worried that this would go wrong, or that, and then things
do go wrong and it almost feels like weíd wished for it to happen,
so not only do we have to go through this terrible time, but we also
have to keep reminding ourselves that we didnít wish for it.  Itís Problem
One.  And thereís our two-year-old son strapped to a board with an IV, crying.  
And doesnít it feel like a formal device then?  As if expecting it
were the sameóor is the sameóas willing it, but then almost willing it anyway,
saying something like, ďPlease God, or whomever, get it over with already . . .Ē
if the world isnít going to be a museum only, as museums keep calling out
that thereís so much more to find in the past, like ourselves, for instance.  
The simplification of our forms.  The question of why it might be important
to save our dinnerware, or Yo-yos.  We have these accidents
in common: last night I was pulling a filing cabinet upstairs on a hand truck,
and at the 90 degree turn it fell on top of me and I had to hold it like that,
one wheel on the stair, one in mid-air.  So I had some time on my hands,
waiting for Robin to get home.  They say that if you relax, lying there
is 80% as restful as sleep.  And knowing how to relax is key, they say.  
Hereís a guess: we will sit on a wooden lawn-chair in the sun, and we
will like it.  We will run the numbers and think it sounds like a good
proposition.  We will consult a map, even ask directions.  The sunís
out right now, in fact, and itís all a matter of doing the next big thing.  
Driving home, say.  And then itís a manner of having done something.  
Driving past the car wash.  Yes, forcing a matter of doing the next
thing, which is filling out the accident report, while the old man
who hit my pickup is crying in the street.  And then Iím walking around,
picking up the fender and light pieces and putting them in the bed.  
Copyright © 2013 by John Gallaher. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on November 18, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Poems by This Author

Advice to Passengers by John Gallaher and G. C. Waldrep
There is a man, there is a woman
In the Little Book of Guesses by John Gallaher
Iíll make you up from out

Further Reading

Poems about Living
"I'm afraid of death"
by Kathleen Ossip
A Toast
by Ilya Kaminsky
Another Elegy
by Jericho Brown
Ashes of Life
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
August, 1953
by David Wojahn
bonne chance de lycee
by Buck Downs
C'est La Guerre
by Danniel Schoonebeek
Characteristics of Life
by Camille T. Dungy
Corpse Flower, Luna Moth
by Daniel Tobin
Costumes Exchanging Glances
by Mary Jo Bang
Daily Life
by Susan Wood
Difficult Body
by Mark Wunderlich
Elegy in Joy [excerpt]
by Muriel Rukeyser
En Route
by Darcie Dennigan
far memory
by Lucille Clifton
First Things to Hand
by Robert Pinsky
Flowers of Rad
by Sampson Starkweather
Forth Into View, Random Warriors
by Pattiann Rogers
from Oracles for Youth
by Caroline Gilman
from Two Inch Fables
by Marilyn Chin
by Natasha Head
How to Uproot a Tree
by Jennifer K. Sweeney
I could suffice for Him, I knew (643)
by Emily Dickinson
I Have a Rendezvous With Life
by Countee Cullen
I Know A Few Things
by Stuart Dischell
In Betweenness
by Pierre Joris
by Alicia Suskin Ostriker
by Joe Brainard
Life is Fine
by Langston Hughes
Little Night Prayer
by Péter Kántor
Living in Numbers
by Claire Lee
Lost and Found
by Ron Padgett
Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus [excerpt]
by Denise Levertov
by Carl Dennis
Meditation 29
by Philip Pain
by Ernest Hemingway
My Teacup
by Alli Warren
On Disappearing
by Major Jackson
On Living
by Nazim Hikmet
On the Gallows Once
by Kofi Awoonor
One Train May Hide Another
by Kenneth Koch
Past Inclemency & Present Warmth
by Eryn Green
Poem Excluding Fiction
by Noah Falck
by Effie Waller Smith
Primitive State [excerpt]
by Anselm Berrigan
Roar Shack
by Alice Fulton
Samurai Song
by Robert Pinsky
Song for Future Books
by Joanna Fuhrman
Songs of a Girl
by Mary Carolyn Davies
by Bill Knott
by Mark Doty
sugar is smoking
by Jason Schneiderman
Summer in Winter in Summer
by Noah Eli Gordon
Tear It Down
by Jack Gilbert
The Clouded Morning
by Jones Very
The Layers
by Stanley Kunitz
The Life So Short...
by Eamon Grennan
The Old Stoic
by Emily BrontŽ
The Pain
by Laura Kasischke
The Secret
by Denise Levertov
This is My Life
by William Stanley Braithwaite
by Walt Whitman
Thrown as if Fierce & Wild
by Dean Young
Variation on a Theme
by W. S. Merwin
Virgil's Hand
by Francesc Parcerisas
What the Living Do
by Marie Howe
What Wild-Eyed Murderer
by Peter Meinke
What's Left (Al-Mutanabbi Street)
by Katrina Roberts
Where I Live
by Maxine Kumin
won't you celebrate with me
by Lucille Clifton
Yellow Beak
by Stephen Dobyns
[I'm not with my]
by Joshua Beckman
Poems About Birth and Parenting
A Woman Waits for Me
by Walt Whitman
by Elise Paschen
After Making Love We Hear Footsteps
by Galway Kinnell
Before the Birth of One of Her Children
by Anne Bradstreet
Central Park, Carousel
by Meena Alexander
Curriculum Vitae
by Lisel Mueller
by Reetika Vazirani
by Michael Redhill
Goodnight Moon
by James Arthur
by Arielle Greenberg
Infant Joy
by William Blake
Lost in thought, the baby
by Rebecca Wolff
Morning Song
by Sylvia Plath
Motherhood, 1951
by Ai
by Naomi Shihab Nye
The Difference between a Child and a Poem
by Michael Blumenthal
The Mother
by Gwendolyn Brooks
The Sick Child
by Robert Louis Stevenson
To My Mother Waiting on 10/01/54
by Teresa Carson
by William Carlos Williams
Wedding Album 1977
by Tess Taylor
With Child
by Genevieve Taggard
You Begin
by Margaret Atwood