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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, March 2, 2018.
About this Poem 
“I had a teacher who used to say a poem should never end with a question. But over time, I’ve come to believe that all poems should extend out toward some greater uncertainty, rather than slamming the door shut. Now when I write, I try to avoid thinking I can resolve something. I’m more interested in what can’t be resolved.”
—Ben Purkert
 

The Past Suffers Too

The bumper sticker says Live In The Moment! on a Jeep
that cuts me off. I’m working to forget it, to let go
of everything but the wheel in my hands,
as a road connects two cities without forcing them
to touch. When I drive by something, does it sway
toward me or away? Does it slip into the past
or dance nervously in place? The past suffers
from anxiety too. It goes underground, emerging
once in a blue moon to hiss. I hear the grass never
saying a word. I hear it spreading its arms across
each grave & barely catch a name. My dying wish
is scattering now before every planet. I want places to
look forward to. Listen: the earth is a thin voice
in a headset. It’s whispering breathe... breathe...
but who believes in going back?

Copyright © 2018 by Ben Purkert. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 2, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Ben Purkert. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 2, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Ben Purkert

Ben Purkert

Ben Purkert is the author of For the Love of Endings (Four Way Books, 2018).