I have lingered too long on the intricacies of bark and root,
of trees as leap into the inverted bowl of a sky I cannot lick,
named comets and coined mythologies while the masters
of commerce discussed business in the other room.
I marvel that though the parks and hills are bumper-to-bumper
with blushing leaves and spring breezes rushing off to
who-knows-where, millions are out of work and the shelves
are barren, especially of toilet paper—too mundane to explore in verse.
When I was little, before poetry and mortgages, an earthquake
put cracks in edifices, some of which toppled, all of which were rebuilt.
Promises were made, and for a while we thought ourselves ready
for anything; it is too easy to confuse the improbable for the impossible.
Where are the odes to building codes, to the manufacture
of n95 masks and paper products? Is the economy worth versifying
only when a pandemic destroys it? When no one can be sure
what the other is suffering from? Let us linger too
on how the Federal Reserve moves people as much as stars,
how the top marginal tax rate determines what about the human world
we celebrate or denounce. Leave the masters of commerce to their rooms.
When sickness came en masse, their theories proved mere rationalization.
Yet we must not trade terror for insight, or death for fresh air;
Keeping vigil, I write poems about what the future can look like.