A Poem for Two Old Lovers (2011)
(in memory of Jean)
By William A. Sylvester
Do hooked up young people really live in the present?
Or do they vibrate at the edge of what’s-about-to-be?
In time “about to be” becomes “to be done”
And “what’s about to be done” becomes
shredded drifting diminishing
yields to a tiny complex “when”
and “now” thins out and slips
into a speeding spreading memory and imagination
as if sitting under giant trees redwood trees
night sounds and redwood trees
the staging and scenery of memory that may be folded away
silence moving them back to
intense opinions (doxa)
sensed as glory (doxa)
back to the days when everything was about to be
even on a Sunday afternoon when the radio
weaves the tones and rhythms of Mozart
through their bodies falling together as one
into the hidden silence of music and
the silence that moves their breathing
in spite of wrinkled skin
querulous repetitious ineptitudes
when “about to be” dissolves both “when” and “now”
may the one remaining imagine the other without a poem
May we become silences seeking music.
Contributor’s Note: Poet, critic, scholar and longtime University at Buffalo professor of English William A. Sylvester died on June 12 at age 97. From 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, his family will host a memorial reading and celebration of his life at the Poetry Collection, 420 Capen Hall, UB North Campus, Amherst. He was the author of seven collections of poetry, including “Curses Omens Prayers” (1974), “Heavy Metal from Pliny” (1992), “War & Lechery: The Poem” (1995), “Nightmares – They Are Zeros” (2009), and the essay collection “Fever Spreading into Light” (1992). He wrote this poem for Jean Grover Sylvester, his wife of 64 years, who died in 2011.