… And even those
Catastrophes that seemed to alter everything
Seem fleeting, grounded in a natural order
All of us are subject to, and ought to celebrate.
—Yet why? That things are temporary doesn’t
Render them unreal, unworthy of regretting.
It’s not as though the past had never happened:
All those years were real, and their loss was real,
And it is sad—I don’t know what else to call it.
I’m glad that both of us seem happy. Yet what
Troubles me is just the way what used to be a world
Turned out, in retrospect, to be a state of mind,
And no more tangible than that. And now it’s gone,
And in its place I find the image of a process
Of inexorable decay, or of some great unraveling
That drags the houses forward into emptiness
And backwards into pictures of the intervening days
Love pieced together out of nothing. And I’m
Certain that this austere vision finally is true,
And yet it strikes me as too meager to believe.
It comes from much too high above the world
And seems to me too hopeless, too extreme—
But then I found myself one winter afternoon
Remembering a quiet morning in a classroom
And inventing everything again, in ordinary
Terms that seemed to comprehend a childish
Dream of love, and then the loss of love,
And all the intricate years between.
— from “Falling Water”, by John Koethe