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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, July 14, 2016.
About this Poem 

“‘Employment’ explores the idea of time well spent, particularly as it relates to making art. Will personal drive always be at odds with contentment? Is peace the enemy of ambition?”
—Nathaniel Bellows

Employment

At the time the time felt well spent but now
I see it was wasted. Not a waste—it just had
no point—no shape—no hourglass’ tapering
waist. At a certain point, bliss gets replaced
by disinterest. If you will allow me for once
to be honest. I left the sea’s lacy wake, waking
each day well-rested, untested, unmet. Nothing
was going to change, and that was the point.
The seabirds sang: Protect your gifts! burying
their doomed eggs in the sand—sand to heat,
to melt, shape into that chalice of time: bulb
upon bulb, curvaceous, urgent as an aging
odalisque. It was a version of love not meant
to set—the best—not trashed, but wholly left
to the mists of that idly mown lawn, the little
boat trolling a coast, bereft of tide or tempest.

Copyright © 2016 by Nathaniel Bellows. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 14, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Nathaniel Bellows. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 14, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Nathaniel Bellows

Nathaniel Bellows

Nathaniel Bellows is the author of Why Speak? (W. W. Norton, 2007). 

by this poet

poem
Is it agony that has bleached them to such beauty? Their stand 
is at the edge of our property—white spires like fingers, through which
the deer emerge with all the tentative grace of memory. Your father

loved these trees. When you try to imagine his childhood, it is all old 
footage, in a similar scheme: black
poem

live life as a stranger. Disappear
into frequent invention, depending
on the district, wherever you get off
the train. For a night, take the name
of the person who’d say yes to that
offer, that overture, the invitation to
kiss that mouth, sit on that lap. Assume
the name of