Monday, November 26, 2007

Daily Inspiration: If You Knew


If You Knew
by Ellen Bass

What if you knew you'd be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm
or press your fingertips,
into the crease of a life line.

When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn't signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won't say thank you, I don't remember
they're going to die.

A friend told me she'd been with her aunt.
They'd just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt's powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.

How close does the dragon's spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?



Ellen Bass's most recent book of poetry, "Mules of Love," won the Lambda Literary Award. This poem is from "The Human Line," forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2007. She teaches poetry and creative writing in Santa Cruz, California.

3 comments:

Aisling said...

That really makes one think, doesn't it? We've had a lot of moments lately where we had to stop and think "When was the last time I saw her?" "What was the last thing I said to him?" If we would live each moment, not as if it were our own last moment, but as if it were the other person's last moment of earthly experience... how differntly we might treat people then. Thank you for sharing this poem. hugs, Aisling

RubyShooZ said...

How touching. I've been wondering some of the same things myself lately and without getting into it *too* much, I do wonder when I don't hear from folks what they'll think when I'm suddenly really gone...will they even think for more than a minute?

Thanks for sharing this, thanks for being you, thanks for your lovely recipes.

Always peace, always beauty to you today.

~ RS ~

Mother Wintermoon said...

Wow. That was deeply moving and compelling in its rawness of truth and clarity. Thanxx for posting it.