The Present Tense

in which I live hurtles airless a razor’s slash
so beautifully deep there is no blood for the first moment
no pain except to the eye the present tense is crammed
with fictitious memories yellowing snapshots in albums
the cheerful pretense of a history shared as we share stanzas
of embarrassing old love songs no one ever sings
the present tense in which I live is a morning of Canada geese
flying overhead in their supple formations crying to one
another in a language I can’t decode and the single deer
bounding through the woods graceful as if it were the
Morning of Creation the present tense is a telephone ringing
and a stranger’s voice Who is that? and I ask Who is that?
and a stubborn silence welds us together
the present tense might be called a rosary as the moments slip
by smooth as beads worn by the fingers one after another after
another as wordless prayers rise to the lips though just as
rightly it is a fallen nest in which tiny blue eggs rot or
yawning over a stained sink or the noise of air-brakes or
a child smudging a newspaper photograph with his forefinger
unable to comprehend what he sees
it is embraces and kisses and silly arguments lapping
around our ankles it is aswarm with flying seeds gay and
prodigious as if even trees lived forever it might be a drawer
of snarled string and paperclips white creases suddenly ringing
a helpless eye it makes the charge Now the day is gone, now
the day lies with the others, what did the day wean,
why did you see so little
the present tense in which I live hurtles so airless
a siren falling from the sky a Chopin cadence too swift
to be grasped a bird’s closing eye and slowing heart and
nothing to call it back when the eye-dropper and the egg white
have failed the present tense passes too swiftly to be
grammatical it is all one syllable shared as we share stanzas
of songs we never sing it is all we know it might be heaven,
or hell