As If the Trees By Their Very Roots Had Hold of Us

by Charles Bernstein

Charles Bernstein

Strange to remember a visit, really not so
Long ago, which now seems, finally, past. Always, it’s a
Kind of obvious thing I guess, amazed by that
Cycle: that first you anticipate a thing & it seems
Far off, the distance has a weight you can feel
Hanging on you, & then it’s there – that
Point – whatever – which, now, while
It’s happening seems to be constantly slipping away,
“Like the sand through your fingers in an old movie,” until
You can only look back on it, & yet you’re still there, staring
At your thoughts in the window of the fire you find yourself before.
We’ve gone over this a thousand times: & here again, combing that
Same section of beach or inseam for that – I’m no
Longer sure when or exactly where – “& yet” the peering,
Unrewarding as it is, in terms of tangible results,
Seems so necessary.

Hope, which is, after all, no more than a splint of thought
Projected outwards, “looking to catch” somewhere –
What can I say here? – that the ease or
Difficulty of such memories doesn’t preclude
“That harsher necessity” of going on always in
A new place, under different circumstances:
& yet we don’t seem to have changed, it’s
As if these years that have gone by are
All a matter of record, “but if the real
Facts were known” we were still reeling from
What seems to have just happened, but which,
“By the accountant’s keeping” occurred years.
Ago. Years ago. It hardly seems possible,
So little, really, has happened.

We shore ourselves hour by hour
In anticipation that soon there will be
Nothing to do. “Pack a sandwich
& let’s eat later.” And of course,
The anticipation is quite appropriate, accounting,
For the most part, for whatever activity
We do manage. Eternally buzzing over the time,
Unable to live in it…

“Maybe if we go upaways we can get a better
View.” But, of course, in that sense, views don’t
Improve. “In the present moment” (if we could only see
It, which is to say, to begin with, stop looking with
Such anticipation) what is enfolding before us puts to
Rest any necessity for “progression”.

So, more of these tracings, as if by some magic
Of the phonetic properties of these squiggles… Or
Does that only mystify the “power” of “presence" which
Is, as well, a sort of postponement.

Last updated July 27, 2022