Today's poem is by Bill Knott

An Understanding Unnaturally Prolonged

Someone was talking on the telephone
marked for hello while at the opposite
end of the cafe the phone for goodbye
was free: we couldn't hear her voice at
our equidistant midway table crowded
with standup toasts shouted down, our
congrats visible in the confidence with
which napkins surged from loose collars:
at the booth across from us sat a party
crying, shaking their faces out of their hair.
They stayed our share with such contrast—
hours went by, days; we feasted, they
lamented. On our exit finally we went
past the hello phone still in use, she was
still talking there and we were amused,
amazed at her persistence until, peering
way down toward the goodbye phone
still on its hook, suddenly we understood
the boothful who wept in our wake. How
we continue in hello though there is none
to go goodbye. How we live while they die.
And as we did we were often struck by
how long that understanding took to pass,
yes, how unnaturally it seemed to linger.

Copyright © 2006 Bill Knott All rights reserved
from Stigmata Errata Etcetera
Saturnalia Books
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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