Literature

Train Rising out of the Sea

It is written in the Book of Usable Minutes
That all things have their center in their dying,
That each is discrete and diaphanous and
Has pointed its prow away from the sand for the next trillion years.

After that we may be friends,
Recognizing in each other the precedents that make us truly social.
Do you hear the wind? It’s not dying,
It’s singing, weaving a song about the president saluting the trust,

The past in each of us, until so much memory becomes an institution,
Through sheer weight, the persistence of it, no,
Not the persistence: that makes it seem a deliberate act
Of duration, much too deliberate for this ingenious being

Like an era that refuses to come to an end or be born again.
We need more night for the sky, more blue for the daylight
That inundates our remarks before we can make them
Taking away a little bit of us each time

To be deposited elsewhere
In the place of our involvement
With the core that brought excessive flowering this year
Of enormous sunsets and big breezes

That left you feeling too simple
Like an island just off the shore, one of many, that no one
Notices, though it has a certain function, though an abstract one
Built to prevent you from being towed to shore.

John Ashbery

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