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I prithee, be my god.
–The Tempest (II,ii)
Despite all my efforts, no god will stay
still for me for long. Like a child, comfortless
in the back-seat as we drive home, maybe after
seeing her first movie, the trip immeasurable what
with her wild imagining. I’ll never have
that child, but I can imagine her and like to
think that’s why I still catch myself praying
to some great, invented imaginer, though I don’t
technically believe in one. Imagine
how utterly alone that first creature
(I picture, for some reason, a whitetail deer
standing, sudden, in the morning light)
must have felt in a forest of only thought-of
things. Like reading a book that, without
warning, mentions you by name. I think of one
god sat alone in a bedroom, scattered around
with its toys, a whole heaven of poseable, actionless
Action Men (no batteries, of course, included).
Just imagine the surprise at finding yourself
invented, called on—first by one, then another,
then endlessly, and for some
reason, I think of that child again, asleep now,
as the grey miles slide into the wild beyond
the headlights. She’s fidgeting a little, like coffee
in a to-go cup, a dream somehow restless
within the reality of things, the seat, the snow-
flickered woods, the plain life, the dark.
• • •
To Be Redacted Should It Become Necessary
Winter again and, though it’s early days yet, the sky and I
can sense its restraint. The old redactor’s leaving work, stopping
in the shops on the corner to grab some bread, wine, whatever
is necessary. Milk, maybe—no need to reach for that one all
the way in back, everything will be drunk tonight—the last
of the autumn asters in a pail by the window. Take
only the things that are given. I could have loved you more,
I think. All those evenings, I held you as if I could hold you
together, like syntax. Your hair spilling loose. Past the bare
hotel kitchen, the dusk going soft what with all the gnawing
of dormice in the woodwork, the fallen thistleseed sprouting
in the grass. A birdhouse empty and above. Even unkept, time
keeps us, years, like souvenirs, scraps brought back from some
well-planned holiday. Provence, maybe. Everything has a limit,
you used to say, the glimmer of city lights failing far below
against the gathering dark. I think of wisdom, now, not so much
as knowing or experience or regret. I could have loved you
through all hours, enough to slip ourselves loose from them like
numbering, like needing, and the poem might’ve ended here.
But I’m told the town’s only editor slipped out early tonight
to buy asters, maybe because he knows there’s really no use
staying to the end. Or maybe because there’s someone waiting
back home, and it’s been a long time, I gather, since he’s done
something nice for her, something small and more than necessary.
Patrick James Errington's poetry has appeared in The Iowa Review, Copper Nickel, Passages North, Horsethief, Best New Poets 2016, and won both The London Magazine and the Wigtown Poetry Competitions. He has a chapbook forthcoming from ignition press in 2018.
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