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
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