This is the junk of everyday life.

A matter-of-fact yet somewhat inviting punch in the gut from Mary Ruefle (1952-).




Yesterday as I sat driving past a field
I saw a school of children
with insect nets.
They moved very delicately over the grass
in their hunt for the future.
I think they were modern.
Basically I am killing
myself with cigarettes
because in the fifth grade
the square-dance teacher
made me sit one out.
None of this will help a baby to grow—
but ticks can kill you.
This is the junk of everyday life.
Let us flee from it.
I am old.
The breeze is too strong for me.
It is no longer possible to stand up.
I like to smell stones.
There is a whiff of snow in them.
In snow there is the scent of shadows.
Stones casting shadows on snow—
there are no nerves in that.
Now I am watching my secret thoughts
lest they escape.
Now you are following me, are you not?
Now you are with me.
Let us take off our shoes
and walk in the snow.
It does not happen everyday.

published on Boston Review’s website in 2013


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