She sat by the window, nursing,
And she saw a sheet of paper
Float down from the sky to the yard.
Later, she carried her infant
Outside, and she picked up the scrap.
It looked like a poem. It had lines,
But didn’t rhyme. It made no sense,
Something about an old father,
A baby napping, a lizard,
And a woman taking a bath.
Since it had an infant in it,
She kept it. A few days later,
This happened again, then again
A few days after that. She kept
Them all, in a drawer, then a box.
She kept them in case she ever
Was telling someone about them
Only to be told she was crazy.
The poems were crazy. She wasn’t.
The world was crazy. She wasn’t.
She kept the poems as evidence.
She began to take note of when
They showed, reliably, three days
And about four, five hours apart,
Advancing completely by turns
Around the clock. Sometimes they fell,
Sometimes they were just there, paper.
Most of them were short. Some were long.
If she was somewhere with people,
She might find one in her pocket.
She decided they had to do
With her baby, somehow, they must
Mean something extraordinary
Was meant to happen through her child,
But her child was ordinary,
And her life was ordinary,
And then at some point she noticed
Without having really noticed
That the magical poems had stopped,
And she forgot about the box,
Until one day she found her child
Hunched over a sheet of paper
Looking puzzled, reading a poem.
Later that night, she looked under
Her darling’s bed and discovered
Another whole box of the things.
There was never anything said,
But she knew the poems had switched now,
And she suspected her child knew
That she knew and might have deduced
Or guessed that she had decided
That nothing need ever be said.
One day, she slid her collection
Under her child’s bed, side by side
With the box already filled there,
And that was it for her. Her child
Suffered considerably more,
Puzzling over drifting pages
And, in adolescence, timing
Their arrivals to the minute—
Three days four hours and twenty eight
Minutes apart. They never failed.
The boxes moved into the shed.
The child grew up, reasonably
Educated, and had lovers
And a few partners, a career.
One or two partners were informed,
But mostly the poems ended up
Filling boxes in storage sheds.
The child had a child, grew older,
Grew middle-aged, grew to be old.
Meanwhile, the poems kept arriving,
Uninvited, unannounced sheets
Filled with lines and lines of writing,
One more, every three days and change.
On a day approaching sixty,
The old child was found dead in bed,
With one last poem tucked in a fist.
Like the rest, it made little sense,
But was read out at the service,
As probably the child’s last thoughts,
Which it wasn’t, which were, Where will
All these damned poems go once I’m dead?