THE PLEASURES OF AGE
Du Nachbar Gott
So what if the neighbors hate you?
(In my case it’s worse: they pass
without saying a word. What joy
that this stains still vulnerable cells
as much as light drizzle scars stones!)
Nothing matters; that’s why I still work.
Poems none read, translations none want;
I’m prodigious as Nature is with her seeds
and almost as indifferent. Some land on rock,
others on thin soil; yet even if a few sprout
and delight, fame won’t cure uncommon colds
and I’ll still walk to the store with a limp.
(Bach is the music One plays in black holes.
This makes no sense to those below sixty
and the odd useless for whom it’s a “fact”
are Cain-strangers.) False-God-fearing neighbors,
if I lay shattered on the kitchen floor,
none of you would help me with the pieces,
yet I’m not shattered at all; I read,
write, play Mozart on the piano;
A good old age—an oxymoron?
One breaks down. One becomes whole.
One travels less. One travels more
via one’s own private jet, a good book.
Is a leaf on a swept sidewalk lonely?
Silence is gregarious; no, I’m not alone
for Somebody listens with infinite gravity;
my Neighbor forever the day I am crushed.
—from Rattle #37, Summer 2012