Excerpts > Spring 2004

Nancy Esposito

What There Is

What There Is

From the garden I heard laughter through the window,
glanced up, opaque, and thought, laughter is good,
my afternoon unmemorably silent. Yanking out ailanthus
saplings, I remembered how you pulled out of me and filled
the alley-lit room with two lines from Rodgers and Hart, I
laughing, missing end rhymes to songs I thought
genetic. By morning, you were avowing
the ascetic, familiar show-tune finale
of denial. Early evening and insects rising

from the foliage, spangling my bare arms and overalls.
In Great Meadows once, I was encased at dusk
in mayflies. Tiny life, wings
perfectly diaphanous, alive merely a day
and a night. It seemed a tease, much
like you, this blueprint without mouth parts,
digestive tract, a fillip of what I've known
of pleasure, and proof enough of neither
justice nor mercy nor any other mythy thing
I've ever wanted proof of. Even something loathsome
as pity. As though I'd learned an intimate
and terrible fact about a dear friend, life

without moment, like the one I still retain of the taste
and smell and syntax of you, the abrasions and collisions
that threatened the very next day. And something next
to what, I gather, happiness must be, a canal
to memory, not opaque and impassable, even non-
existent in which nothing at all could or did occur.

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