A Poem of Unrest, by John Ashbery
Men duly understand the river of life,
misconstruing it, as it widens and its cities grow
dark and denser, always farther away.
And of course that remote denseness suits
us, as lambs and clover might have
if things had been built to order differently.
But since I don’t understand myself, only segments
of myself that misunderstand each other, there’s no
reason for you to want to, no way you could
even if we both wanted it. Do those towers even exist?
We must look at it that way, along those lines
so the thought can erect itself, like plywood battlements.
From “Can You Hear, Bird” by John Ashbery. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux: $20; 175 pp.) 1995 Reprinted by permission.