Click here to listen to Edward Hirsch read this poem. That was the year I lived without fiction and slept surrounded by books on the unconscious. I woke every morning to a sturdy brown oak.
That was the year I left behind my marriage
of twenty-eight years, my faded philosophy books, and
the green couch I had inherited from my grandmother.
After she died, I drove it across the country
and carried it up three flights of crooked stairs
to a tiny apartment in west Philadelphia,
and stored it in my in-laws' basement in Bethesda,
and left it to molder in our garage in Detroit
(my friend Dennis rescued it for his living room),
and moved it to a second-floor study in Houston
and a fifth-floor apartment on the Upper West Side
where it will now be carted away to the dump.
All my difficult reading took place on that couch,
which was turning back into the color of nature
while I grappled with ethics and the law,
the reasons for Reason, Being and Nothingness,
existential dread and the death of God
(I'm still angry at Him for no longer existing).
That was the year that I finally mourned
for my two dead fathers, my sole marriage,
and the electric green couch of my past.
Darlings, I remember everything.
But now I try to speak the language of
the unconscious and study earth for secrets.
I go back and forth to work.
I walk in the botanical gardens on weekends
and take a narrow green path to the clearing.
TODAY IN SLATE
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Welcome to 13th Grade!
Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.
The Actual World
“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.