“This Is What Life Does” by Marjorie Saiser

Marjorie Saiser


It gives you a glorious green childhood,
if you’re lucky, and I hope you were.
Mine was barefoot, it had bicycles
and swimming, it had some
dogma but I shucked that off.
This is what life does. For instance,
I stepped out my door this morning
before sunrise—some people are morning people,
some—my neighbors in their unlit houses—
sleep long honeyed sleep, apparently,
and this morning
a firefly was caught in the grass
a few feet from where I stood.
I couldn’t see the insect, but assumed
him by the light he gave off, and he or she
couldn’t apparently get airborne,
couldn’t make those arcs in the air,
those sweeps of light their kind
are known for. This one was stuck
low in the grass, the grass I couldn’t see.
Life is like that. You assume
so much, and the firefly
sparked in the grass for a few minutes,
blinked on the ground,
would have done so whether I watched it
or wasn’t there. I looked at stars without
knowing the names assigned to them.
The shapes of trees made an opening, 
a window. I saw sky
and several nameless ancient stars,
and suddenly it was as if something
important had shifted in a dream last night,
a dream I don’t remember the details of.
Something useful and helpful to me.
After I had been angry and felt so
disrespected again, shut down, stifled,
and yet I mean it
when I say I’m lucky. That is what
life does, gives me another morning,
fleeting reminders, small impermanent
flashes in the grass.

from Rattle #73, Fall 2021


Marjorie Saiser: “Somebody (who?) said if you can quit writing, do. Something to that effect. So far, I can’t quit. I have to read some poems every day, and probably put some lines on a page.” (web)

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