by Stephen Edgar
All of their nights and days, then, are deleted,
Or so it seems,
Gone from the world, now that their time’s completed,
Their hungers and their thirsts, the flush of passion
That compassed you as well perhaps and led
Briefly from here—except that in odd dreams
You will be visited,
Near dawn, say, when the window light is ashen.
Lying, you'll feel some settling of collapse
Deep in your sense
Of earthly certainty, as those slight gaps
Give way beneath the weight of what remains.
But then what does remain? Are not your own
Made of the same and failing elements?
That ringing telephone,
Of all the mornings that your life contains,
Wakes you on this. Climbing, in Vertigo,
Those phobic stairs,
James Stewart turns and gazes back below,
Hallucinating in the lower flights
Unreal and terrifying depths extended
Through those few feet. It seems that this day shares
That groundless view, suspended,
As on a landing, over all the nights
And days that form the staircase to its summit.
Downward you gaze,
Almost imagining that you could plummet
Right to the very bottom of that well
Of mounting time, in which is set in place
In all its living presence every day’s
Dimension to embrace
Whatever you became there when you fell.
What if, as Russell joked, the world was made
Just now, with stores
Of memory placed within us to persuade
Belief in preterite fullness and past age—
Like that old notion that the Earth is young
But came with fossils of the dinosaurs
Compressed and slipped among
The pictures on its fresh, God-doctored page.