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OURS

by Stephen Tapscott


You and I knew what there was to lose,
waiting on the railway platform like two men.

Typically you were the brave one, weeping:
blowing your nose into that numb handkerchief

until I thought your brains would fly out through your face
and you'd stand there holding your mind in both hands,

relieved and stupefied. My sweetest friend,
at least don't wave it at me when you leave.

Me, I was angry. Am:
that living in time requires

this stupid tutorial pain. That God, in God's time,
knows. How could a god feel anything

for us, except remorseless pity?
But I am jealous:what we are suffering

is ours, He has
no right to this.

I think it is impossible to think of a god
in any way except as actual. And what good

would that do two men standing on a platform
in the low cold, the brown sooty wind,

an empty Sunday evening?
I have pity enough

for us both, even lacking grace.
For now the god is merely a place

to put the pity for a little while:
so that we can move when your train arrives

and pauses, for you to climb up then and go.
Go. I wish you would.


Copyright © 1995 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
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