Today's poem is by Muriel Nelson

Which tense do you want to live in?
—Osip Mandelstam

I'll tell you what I've seen
since shyness is no virtue,
and there's no point in being
shy where God can see you.

(But eyes could be as dangerous
as they are precious—witnesses
in whites, viable in darkness;
potato sprouts, poisonous.
Rub them out! Or they'll leaf.
Be their light; they'll feed you.)

It's a reflection that I saw,
a flare you stared at.
Your eyes may be an ordinary
human's, a feline's, a monster's.
What matters isn't that I care,
but what I saw you watch.

I tell you, I'm expecting—
not what you think.
When darkness could not hold
itself, as if flared through:

as if there were no tense,
and prophecies were/are/will be.
As if my life leaned close and found me

Copyright © 2006 Muriel Nelson All rights reserved
from The New Republic
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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