I remember one evening-we were small-
Playing outdoors, we found a mouse,
A dusty little gray one, lying
By the side steps. Afraid he might be dead,
We carried him all around the house
On a piece of tinfoil, Crying.
Ridiculous children; we could bawl
Our eyes out about nothing. Still,
How much violence had we seen?
They teach you-quick-you have to be well-bred
In all events. We can't all win.
Don't whine to get your will.
We live with some things, after all,
Bitterer than dying, cold as hate:
The old insatiable loves,
That vague desire that keeps watch overhead,
Polite, wakeful as a cat,
To tease us with our lives;
That pats at you, wants to see you crawl
Some, then picks you back alive;
That needs you just a little hurt.
The mind goes blank, then the eyes. Weak with dread,
In shock, the breath comes short;
We go about our lives.
And then the little animal
Plays out; the dulled heart year by year
Turns from its own needs, forgets its grief.
Asthmatic, timid, twenty-five, unwed-
The day we left you by your grave,
I wouldn't spare one tear.
This poem is from Selected Poems 1957-1987