We did not plan
aloud or far ahead
knowing how the envy of the gods
(as that of man) is
easily aroused.  We dreaded
ruining our odds.

We did, however, dream
asleep, awake
of moving on to something more–
from milk to cream
dry bread to honey cake
an after better than before.

We meant more life
just down the road.

Until the universe arranged
an otherwise, a knife
to heart, one morning to explode.
You died, and all was changed.

Instead of dreaming now
alone I let life simply be
the in and out of breath.

I greet its beauty, but allow
no wishful thought, no certainty

except, of course, for death.

27 responses »

  1. Cynthia, this is a superb poem superbly crafted (says she confidently,vwho knows nothing). And the title is “present” perfect! But I do know when a poem speaks out loud to me in its silent reading and is understood and felt and all of this applies here. I have read it three imes and will read it again. If this was in a competition I would demand it a winner 😊

    • I’m guessing that your own doldrums at this time require a bit of heavy lifting, which makes it even more special that you have lifted my own spirits—as you usually do! Thanks, Christine

  2. “until the universe arranged an otherwise” – probably one of the saddest lines I’ve read – and so beautifully expressed… soulful and poignant, and yet with zen-like acceptance – you’ve wrought a fine balance here

  3. Oh wow. This is beautifully written grief and loss. So many perfect phrases, my fave: “an otherwise”, as I’ve had my share of those. I’m trying very hard these days to learn to “let life simply be”–it’s difficult.

    Yes it is difficult– especially when one has such great ideas about how it should be!
    Thanks, Mirada

    (Something happened with the sequence of comments here and I had a helluva time trying to respond to you, but here it is!)

  4. I managed to read this when I was in New Zealand. Now that I am returned I came back to savor it better. Your poetry always lures one back for a second, third and more readings – each opening up new depths. This one has an innate sadness but I pray that you continue to savor life’s beauty, because your poetry adds to it. Perhaps you might even tempt yourself into a little dreaming – surely this lovely poem comes close. I still say ‘cheerio’, Jane

    • Hi Jane, Welcome back! I’m guessing you had a fruitful journey and respite? While you were in absentia (excuse me, in New Zealand), I had time to read your wonderful, newly published novel…..( I’ll plug it here because I know others read these comments—A Sin For A Son, by Jane Stansfeld, available e-book or paper at Amazon). I don’t habitually read novels these days, and bought it because I am acquainted with the author, but found I couldn’t put it down. It was a real treat, not only for the basic story, but also for glimpses into twentieth century history and science in Britain. Congratulations, Jane…..and thank you for your very sweet comment on the poem, as always.

    • I wonder now…it’s much easier for me to think of its being IN the kindle than ON th kindle anyway….never mind ending up in the clouds….I mean on the cloud… I’m getting too old for this!

  5. This poem has a strong sense of craftsmanship in it. The stanza,
    We meant more life
    just down the road.
    is an example. There is just enough of a turn to the language to make it contain a meaning that is above that which you get in a lot of wordpress poetry.
    These two lines (one partial) provides another example:
    Until the universe arranged
    an otherwise…
    The idea of the universe arranging “an otherwise” rings true while exhibiting a great deal of skill with language.
    The subject of the poem is powerful, of course. I cannot imagine losing my wife, and the idea that you can just go on, although I know how that happens since we lost our son a few years ago, still greeting beauty, but allowing:
    no wishful thought, no certainty
    is difficult to contemplate. Poetry should sometimes present the difficult to contemplate, though. It is part of the human experience that good poetry explores.

    • I am most grateful and honored to receive such a thoughtful reading and astute commentary. I have noticed the careful readings you have given to John Stevens’ poetry, and have been meaning to visit and read some of your own poems. For sure I will do this, soon. Thank you very much, Thomas

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