Today's poem is by David Bergman

The Tense of Dreams

The past weighs nothing in our dreams, but we feel
the ballast of the future as the present
multiplies all around us. Just how I came

here and why are unexplained, but I can see
the exam handed out I should be taking,
the curtain rising on the understudy

speaking my lines, my lover waiting, waiting
at a restaurant whose address I have lost
or have never been given. By the time I

find any of these destinations, it will
be too late—the papers passed in, the doors
shut, the audience gone to bed, the love

embittered by neglect. There will be no one
to whom to explain the absence that's kept me
where I was when I wasn't there. How could I

admit that where I am was well worth the stay:
children running into the webs of twilight,
rhododendron raising up their goblet blooms

to toast the evening, the old lady hobbling
beside me, hoping she could be of some help?
I try to stamp this moment on my failing

memory so that one night soon I can return
and know for once the pleasures of arriving
at a place where I had intended to be.

Copyright © 2005 David Bergman All rights reserved
from Southwest Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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