Rapt attention

Monday, July 13, 2009

As though as if

This is one of my favorite poems by the songwriter Robert Hunter. He is better know for his work as a lyricist for the Grateful Dead. This piece comes from his 1991 book Night Cadre, published by Penguin. I couldn't find my copy and did a google search for the lines Forgive those lifelong suicides at the exact same time as a girl my own age and general temperament in South Carolina. Odd that we should both look for that line... Hope that it is okay to post it here.

As though as if

Tomorrow has no chance
Be its reason or its ruin.
Love's body is tortured
for secrets none possess;
only what is best forgot
seems worth remembering
as bitterness can testify.

Dowsing for a daisy
with a sprig of mint
I find only orchids
on the veranda,
orchids in the swell of kingly hills,
orchids on the roof of
the hothouse pushing
purple faces through
drifts of impeccable snow.

Tomorrow has no choice.
Be its reason or its ruin.
Forgive these lifelong suicides,
you who jumped in the river
with no second thought
to rescue the reflection
of a drowning sun.

That was the Winter he almost died.
This is the Winter he almost did not.
A year separates these things
during which reality wavered like
a heat mirage on the highway
and a clarity was conceived
owing nothing at all to vision.

Strange to walk in the old skin,
feeling the cool new coin clasped
in my own warm hand as a promise.

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