Everyone's Poem

Sara Nicholson

Life is pleasant. Paradise too
Dry or wet. Scarcity’s
A nail driven through the concrete
Slab in a garden, soon to be
Overcome by weeds, wildfire

Particles in the air. And so I
Willed for myself a life
Apart from you, one in which
Apricots fell freely to all
Who would eat them, no thirst

For money, the burnished coin
Of my rage. Yet all along
We were helping them to divide
Each week into units, wages
Exchanged for time or time’s

Pure potential, forms of play
Set apart from the hourly
Relation of one thing to all
Others, vexed by the spark
From which our sense of time

Derives. It shouldn’t come
As a shock to you, that I myself
Thrive on disbelief even as I
Queue up a song, am what isn’t
Right with the world, in other

Words, everything. How I long
To live, as angels do, in utter
Obedience to a power, whose law
Provokes no rumor of music
Favoring the hush that follows

A shift of tense or pronoun
On cool May mornings, likely
Milder than the present
Climate crisis should permit.
I was in New York, I think

It was colder than it should be
Anywhere, a certain time of year
My scant affinity for rain
Misread, so that I could tell you
Writing it takes synthesizing

Everyone, everything and what
Each word means to you
Laid bare within the sentence
Leaves drying on the black top
Loosely iambic, wet with ash

Irrespective of how we define
A season, a series of hours
Distributed equally, as—as one
Overburdened by heat or snow—
I always found myself

Unprepared for it, lacking the right
Clothes, the so-­to-­speak right
To imagine a door opening onto
A field of sun-­burnt grasses
And white lilac, painfully sincere

Light spilling back into April
Privacy, all adjective minus
The gerund, obscuring my motives,
Ceasing to harbor the disparate
Business of stars along my route.

Sara Nicholson is the author of two books of poetry, What the Lyric Is and The Living Method. She lives in upstate New York.
Originally published:
May 19, 2021


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