Sunday, August 16, 2009


Now that my father has died, I reside however briefly in that clichéd place, shocked that the world has not stopped, that strangers continue to smile and celebrate, that my dog barks at birds, that people mean well and have faith.

I have never once felt old, but I am struck with a realization that I feel older by immeasurable measure than the same people I encountered just a week ago. We share in my mind a more significant humanity, one that exists somewhere deep and dangerous, yet I have so much less to say to anyone. Small things: the Week in Review feels laughably irrelevant this time around. The nod from a neighbor who recently gave me peaches means everything. My dog's bark stops my heart. And then the miracle: it starts beating again.

High Windows

by Philip Larkin

When I see a couple of kids
And guess he's fucking her and she's
Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,
I know this is paradise

Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives--
Bonds and gestures pushed to one side
Like an outdated combine harvester,
And everyone young going down the long slide

To happiness, endlessly. I wonder if
Anyone looked at me, forty years back,
And thought, That'll be the life;
No God any more, or sweating in the dark

About hell and that, or having to hide
What you think of the priest. He
And his lot will all go down the long slide
Like free bloody birds.
And immediately

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.