26: Against the Promise of a View

December 31, 2018 · 5:00
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Against the Promise of a View
by Maureen N. McLane

A difficult climb
to a beautiful view—
I don’t like it.
I don’t like the way
you make me go
positively Protestant
all this deferral
up to a future
only you’ve seen
the ascent always leveraged
against an alien payoff
already prescripted.
When we get there
I’ll be dead
tired too tired to view
the view the way
I wanted. I wanted
the way to be beautiful
as a stroll in the hanging
gardens of Babylon
or the wisteria-laden
lanes of the rose garden
in the Bois du Boulogne
as beautiful as a jammed
Sixth Avenue crosswalk
in midtown. I wanted
to be going nowhere
nowhere we know
not to have to breathe
so hard into a future
someone else promised.
I know
reputable studies show
the capacity
to delay
gratification
makes for a happy
person & nation
but oh
I just want
& want now
a perpetual
beautiful stroll
nowhere
I don’t want
to look back
& say ah
that was so
worth it
because even
if it was
it wasn’t.
I don’t want
to keep my head down
for miles alert
for insurgent roots
a falling branch
my legs punctured
by stinging flies
who harry the way
only to be able to say
at some notional
top however beautiful
how beautiful
—& see, no insects here
& why not lunch—

Somehow
it was just
the glorious sun
and twelve islands
inlaid in a lake
& the distant silent
powerboats.
Somehow it was a vision
of all as dust.
If I go
on pilgrimage
I want every age
to be a stage
one can look around
and say how interesting
& yes a cup of coffee
would be nice.
I’m not going anywhere
fast but where
we’re all going
 
 
 


“Against the Promise of a View”, from SOME SAY by Marie Howe. Copyright © 2017 by Maureen N. McLane. Used by permission of Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.