X.J. Kennedy – a.k.a. Joe Kennedy – turns 83 today. I fished out a 1999 email from him so that I could send off a quick birthday greeting before the day expired on the East Coast. And I received a quick email reply within an hour or so. Good to know he’s online and quick on the draw.
Birthdays are, of course, a reminder of time. What better and more fitting way to celebrate than with one of my favorite poems by him:
And yes, Joe, it’s true. ”Huh? What happened?” I’m at that point now.
The Purpose of Time is to Prevent Everything from Happening at Once
Suppose your life a folded telescope
Durationless, collapsed in just a flash
As from your mother’s womb you, bawling, drop
Into a nursing home. Suppose you crash
Your car, your marriage – toddler laying waste
A field of daisies, schoolkid, zit-faced teen
With lover zipping up your pants in haste
Hearing your parents’ tread downstairs – all one.
Einstein was right. That would be too intense.
You need a chance to preen, to give a dull
Recital before an indifferent audience
Equally slow in jeering you and clapping.
Time takes its time unraveling. But, still,
You’ll wonder when your life ends: Huh? What happened?
Tags: X.J. Kennedy