Alan Shapiro, “Clear”


and unavoidable, that’s how you have to see it,
Annie said, that’s what it all comes down to,
what the Buddha teaches: separation,
sooner or later, from parents, spouses, children
most of all, no matter what, so what else
is there to do except accept it, embrace it,
trying to say as if saying it
itself could be protection or escape,

as if the foresight weren’t the perfect foresight
between the knife cut and the cry, the siren
and the blue lights in the rearview; the clarity—
something that than that never-to-be-
prepared-for sudden moment when the friend
you’re running toward and calling to, and now
are touching on the shoulder to turn around,
has turned around and is no one you know.

From Old War. This new collection also includes “Skateboarder” (published in Blackbird) and “Suspension Bridge” (published in Slate, with a recording of Shapiro’s reading). Last weekend, LA Times Book Review editor David Ulin called Old Warthe work of a poet who understands loss and longing but also knows enough not to be subsumed by them, to appreciate the small illuminations they allow.”

And be sure to read two earlier poems by Shapiro, “Sleet” and The Haunting,” at the Academy of American Poets website.

21 March 2008 | poetry |