Susan Stewart, "May 1988"

The layoffs and ransacked apartments, the
thrust toward the sycophant's hour, the
gone world of hope and opinion, the
delirious choice, the
anarchic old flag.

The hard life of soldiers and patrons, the
new ways of taming the poor, the
sad throughts of civic officials, the
down-and-out dives, the
unheard reveries.

The specific ways of changing our focus, the
tawny cats that haunt every dream, the
emigres in their sporty new cars, the
decision to stay, the
regretful paid leave.

The plain facts of deferred transformation, the
emphasis on the family and pain, the
grace notes of deliberate communion, the
small affectations, the
heart-to-heart names.

The egg that breaks on the way from the market, the
straw that breaks as it breaks down the load, the
meter that stops and the battery stalling, the
refusals of time, the
spies lost in the snow.

The last turn on the floor of that memory, the
last thought as they go toward the door, the
last things are the ones that endure, O the
hardships of war, the
distortions of shame.

As it turns out, it turns out the same, as
it turns out, the engine has stopped, as
it turns out, the occasion has ended, the
lights are turned out, the
gates opened, the rain.

from The Forest, 1995 (Univ of Chicago Press).