Saturday 25 April 2015

Ordinary Times

Reading widely does not mean that you take in more than people that read narrowly. The human condition guarantees a certain sameness to life's narratives: love and happiness, sorrow and loss, evil and redemption, all bound up neatly in different coloured jackets. 

I read the following poem in a book about death, or rather, the end of life. The book is called The Undertaking - Life Studies from the Dismal Trade, by Thomas Lynch. The poem is called Nines, and is attributed to Henry Nugent. Lynch says in introduction, "the courtesies of copyright do not deter me from sharing here," perhaps because he is the author after all, and the poem has since been published under Lynch's own name.

Thus we proclaim our fond affirmatives:
I will, I do, Amen, Hear, Hear, Let's
eat, drink and be merry. Marriage is
the public spectacle of private parts:
cheque-books and genitals, housewares, fainthearts,
all doubts becalmed by kissing aunts, a priest's
safe homily, those tinkling glasses
tightening those ties that truly bind
us together forever, dressed to the nines.

Darling, I reckon maybe thirty years,
given our ages and expectancies.
Barring the tragic or untimely, say,
ten thousand mornings, ten thousand evenings,
please God, ten thousand moistened nights like this,
when mindless of these vows, our opposites,
nonetheless, attract. Thus, love's subtraction:
the timeless from the ordinary times -
nine thousand, nine hundred, ninety-nine. 

I like the breathless counting of it, the rhythm, and the clear shape of the lover's affection. I like the hope in it, the praise of ordinary times, and the celebration of the now, even sweeter for the knowing that it will someday end.


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