Sadness of living in time and then dying

yes I register that today, with the help of Matthew Arnold,
and I registered it last week with the help of someone,
on a cold rainy day, who was it, I think it was Szymborska,
yes and for a minute I knew quite well the sadness
of our living in time and then dying, while down the road
beside the creek rabbits hid underground below
a wrack of soil and decayed leaves and re-frozen snow,
I registered the situation, and today again
with the help of Arnold, this sober familiar registration

as happened also a month ago when I read
Book VI of the Aeneid in Fitzgerald’s translation
and also Mandelbaum’s, I’m sure that both translations let me
register the sadness, how an afterlife is a dream
and if I look into my diary of 1994 I will see a trace
of my registering on a quiet street thick with yellow leaves
in Bloomington Indiana the sadness of living in time
and then dying, this old news, nothing special

except when someone makes it sound in a moment’s chord,
major or minor chord, we register
and then go back to the snack and laundry and bills,
and tomorrow with a little luck and readiness
someone will help us register again the sadness
of our living in time till we die;  we want to register this,

it’s as if we imagine that a registration complete enough,
rich enough could turn out to be an answer, a solution
whereby the sadness would become a good thing,
even a happy thing in that it allows for these registrations–
semicolon;  I don’t want the sentence to end,
we don’t want to be as clueless as rabbits huddled in winter
and so we keep wanting to register and tomorrow
I may read some poems by David Ferry to get the old news
or with luck I might sit with you and hear a story
about your mother when she was old and funny and stubborn and frail.


Mark Halliday

MARK HALLIDAY's sixth book of poems Thresherphobe was published by the University of Chicago Press and is reviewed in the 2013 winter issue. He teaches at Ohio University. His poems have appeared on this site here and here.

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