Alan Shapiro: Now


Alan Shapiro


my daughter on the swing explained,
“doesn’t exist,” and she leaned back
and kicked her legs out and swung
the swing up high and higher toward
the lowest branch whose tip bent
slightly as a finch alighted. “How so?”
I asked, and she said, “Well, Daddy,
because now is the past of soon, and soon’s
no sooner now than it’s just now,
which is then, which then makes soon
a not yet now, and now a not yet then.”
She laughed, and the chain ropes
she was clutching leaning backward 
tightened straight out at the apex
of the upswing, her tiptoes
each time closer to the branch 
whose tip bent under the finch
when he was there, then trembled
for a moment after when he wasn’t.

–Alan Shapiro

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