[from John Koethe's Falling Water, Harper Collins, 1997]
excerpt from "The Secret Amplitude"
But is there even anything to know?
Linger over the cases: the dead friends,
And what the obituaries omit
And one can only imagine: what it
Must have felt like at the end, suspended
Between two impossible tasks, as though
The burden of each day were to rebut
A presumption of disillusionment
And a sense of hopelessness, deflected
By the daily routine, yet protected
By the cave of the imagination;
Until at last the inner door slammed shut.
When did it all become unbearable?
The question begs the questions of their lives
Asked from the inside, taking for granted
Their very being, as though enchanted
By the way the settings, in retrospect,
Make up the logic of a parable
Whose incidents make no sense, and by how
Time tries to project a kind of order,
And the terrifying clarity it brings,
Into the enigma of the last things --
A vodka bottle lying on the floor,
An off-hand remark ("I'll be going now") --
With everything contained, as in a proof,
In a few emblems of finality:
The bullet in the mouth. The sharp report
That no one else can hear. The sharp report
That only someone else could hear. The long,
Irrevocable transport from the roof.
Falling Water: Poems