Sunday, December 23, 2012

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: White Tea (a poem)

by Barry Casselman
Most of the first news is mistaken,
and what comes after, is misunderstood.
So when these events are apparently concluded,
we have layers of contrary errors, odd jokes
of natural confusion, hearsay, false presciences,
and contradictions of what we had accepted as true
as a cold day we think is true to us,
as is a good meal, as is fatigue.

The next news is more upsetting
because it is more likely to be true,
although by now we doubt anything can be true
because what we had accepted over some time,
perhaps many months, probably many years, is now not at all true.
Then we are without anything decisive to take its place,
not even something to take its place with any assurance
that it might endure months or years
like the memory of the flavors in white tea.

After that, the news accumulates like canned food in a cupboard,
unsharpened pencils in a box on a desk, videotapes of family parties
in which at least one parent no longer attends, or ever speaks again in anger.

If there is any news beyond this, we try to fashion it
into a piteous song or a dry poem or, if we are truly ambitious,
we make it into a story about the story of our new disappointments,
our private losses, our reluctance to replace what has passed,
the agony of replacing it because we know that more news will come
to overturn even what we have not yet accepted.

There is only so much we can allow ourselves to delay
as the world travels around us with war and peace,
and war again and peace again, and again those afternoons and mornings,
the spring’s sun, some nights of so much pleasure,
glass cups exhaling white tea.

Copyright (c) 2003, 2012 by Barry Casselman     All rights reserved.

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