Robert Pinsky


Nothing to be said about it, and everything —
The change of changes, closer or farther away:
The Golden Retriever next door, Gussie, is dead,

Like Sandy, the Cocker Spaniel from three doors down
Who died when I was small; and every day
Things that were in my memory fade and die.

Phrases die out; first, everyone forgets
What doornails are; then after certain decades
As a dead metaphor, "dead as a doornail" flickers

And fades away.  But someone I know is dying —
And though one might say glibly, "everyone is,"
The different pace makes the difference absolute.

The tiny invisible spores in the air we breathe,
That settle harmlessly on our drinking water
And on our skin, happen to come together

With certain conditions on the forest floor,
Or even a shady corner of the lawn-
And overnight the flashy, pale stalks gather,

The colorless growth without a leaf or flower;
And around the stalks, the summer grass keeps growing
With steady pressure, like the insistent whiskers

That grow between shaves on a face, the nails
Growing and dying from the toes and fingers
At their own humble pace, oblivious

As the nerveless moths, that live their night or two —
Though like a moth a bright soul keeps on beating,
Bored and impatient in the monster's mouth.