Pursuit, by Stephen Dobyns


Each thing I do I rush through so I can do

something else. In such a way do the days pass--

a blend of stock cars racing and the never

ending building of a gothic cathedral.

Through the windows of my speeding car, I see

all that I love falling away: books unread,

jokes untold, landscapes unvisited. And why?

What treasure do I expect in my future?

Rather it is the confusion of childhood

loping behind me, the chaos in the mind,

the failure chipping away at each success.

Glancing over my shoulder I see its shape

and so move forward, as someone in the woods

at night might hear the sound of approaching feet

and stop to listen; then, instead of silence

he hears some creature trying to be silent.

What else can he do but run? Rushing blindly

down the path, stumbling, struck in the face by sticks;

the other ever closer, yet not really

hurrying or out of breath, teasing its kill.

From “Cemetery Nights” by Stephen Dobyns (Penguin Books: 100 pp., $14.95) Copyright 1997 Reprinted by permission.