Today's poem is by Stephen Dunn

Mrs. Cavendish and the Learning Curve

Mrs. Cavendish was aware of the tick
of the clock, the seemingly often unseemly
progress of time, but knew little of the now,
which was known to go backward, or pick up
where it left off. We'd argue about such matters,
affectionately, because she knew I trusted her
mindful instincts, as much as I knew
she tolerated mine. Death shows no favoritism
she once said, and added that history
was a strangely beautiful graveyard
where the rich lie down with the poor.
But in general Mrs. Cavendish
loved the enigmas of happenstance
more than any slippage toward certainty,
and the truth-teller in her loved
as if more than this is so.
It was easy to be fond of this person
she had become, her heart often ascending
to where her mind presided,
properly warming what got spoken.
I marveled at how she could disturb
wisdom with the gentlest of doubts,
but also worried that she couldn't commit
to any one thing. One evening I said,
Mrs. Cavendish, I'm afraid you need something
to give your whole self to, or maybe
some rules for getting to a place inescapable,
some place not in between.
How then would I stay alive? she said.

Copyright © 2015 Stephen Dunn All rights reserved
from Five Points
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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