poems as hand- and foot-holds on a glass mountain

The Birth of the Magi

We’re always starting over, one says

I’m washing the car in the driveway

while it preens, arching its back as I scrub

you glance at us from an upstairs window

There’s always something more basic

I can’t see while I’m doing whatever

and you can only see the outside of

We’re always in the middle of something, another says

having missed its beginning, almost as if it had none,

as if it were only ongoing and we know that’s impossible

Did I wake up this morning, did the sun come up?

it seems we only notice what’s already here

And what about after, says a third?

Memory is all imagination; we know what it offers
isn’t here any more,

like the unfiltered Camels

I quit smoking years ago

whose scent lingers in my curtains

in clothes in drawers and closets

washed over and over

There’s time that can be measured and time that can’t,

another one says slowly, considering;

like the Delaware River used to freeze solid

every winter, and people would walk, drive horses
pulling wagons across

former boats trapped in the ice would have to wait for spring

to be boats again

If there were no beginnings, just observable processes,

said yet another, then we might be just imagining

worlds leaping out of almost nothing

out of our need of entertainment

but if we can’t observe beginnings

and there must be at least one,

what can we do but ignore or imagine it?

We could all have the same birthday,
someone said at last

when we acknowledge what we must know
have always known but can’t

in the time of frozen rivers

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