Father & son

He said
“I live three miles from the ocean
but I haven’t been to the shore
in three years.”
I say, “That
sounds awful.”
                 “It’s easy
to forget the things
of beauty
that abound all around you.”
I nod in agreement,
furtively looking
at my watch, eager to get home,
hoping he won’t keep me
much longer.
                 “Look out of
my window. Do you see that tree?
It’s beautiful, isn’t it?
Look how it stands, impervious
to everything we throw at it—
the city’s rot, the earth’s
malefactions. Year after year it goes
through its cycles,
the constant rebirth, until
it outlives us, gently mocking us
with its silence.

“But I forget it.
I forget it unless forced
to consider it, as your presence
has forced me to consider it.
It’s a trapping, a mere
accessory, a bit of color
that doesn’t impact me
in any way that’s significant,
except on a day like this; and
even a day like this—talking here,
sipping coffee, getting along famously—
will soon fade, be of no
matter, ebb away into the
wash of time. And that’s the way
that beauty perishes: rarely through
willful destruction,
but through mere neglect.”

I left soon after,
for the day pressed on me—
many promises to keep,
many more people to please.
I, too, live near the ocean,
and haven’t been to the shore;
and I have a tree in my backyard,
tall and glowering,
insisting on its weight,
mocking me by its age, by its
permanence, refuting my claims
to property, to earth, to life.
The world conspires against you,
not out of malice,
but because, like God,
it would say “I am what I am”.

Look at your watch; look,
and watch the hands fly.

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