As It Will
for Stanley Kunitz
Sometimes between one of Stanley’s Well‘s
and whatever he says next,
there’s ample space to take a nap –
it’s late afternoon, and the porch is warm
and quiet—I can drift knowing
the front contour of his next word
will retrieve me when I’m needed,
and he will not have lost the thread
of my question. I don’t fret that I’m neglecting
my work when this happens—I suspect that half-
unconscious I can better communicate
with my employer. He’s been contemplating
a passage marked “Continuity Beyond
the Body” for twenty minutes in silence
when he surfaces: We know the conditions
for survival will pass, he begins. Eventually
this planet earth will become uninhabitable.
When the sun grows cold, as it will,
the conditions for life will be irrevocable.
What are we going to do? he asks me.
Maybe I’ve been thinking too small,
calling around this morning trying
to find him a ride back to New York
in September. More mischief
sparking his voice this time, What
are we going to do about this? he presses.
I say, We’ll have to find another life
form to inhabit. I say All we can do
is live fully until the sun cools,
and I remind him a lot will have happened
in the meantime, and there are other suns,
other stars. They’re a long way off, he scoffs,
scattergaze not fixed on any one thing.
And then through the screen, a sharp shift
of light—a wolf spider quivers its web,
and though I’m never certain
what he’s hearing or seeing, I know
it is this glint that has called him back
five-and-a-half billion years when he says, Look.
“As It Will” is from Mr. Worthington’s Beautiful Experiments on Splashes (New Michigan Press, 2010).