Every once in a while I am stopped dead in my tracks by another poet’s work. This afternoon I read “As If For the Last Time” by poet Hannah Stein who has put out some amazing work during her career. Many of Hannah’s poems have appeared in American Literary Review and the Yale Review, and of course other magazine publications as well.
She is always a joy to read.
I thought you might like to read the poem that profoundly touched me this afternoon. Enjoy.
As If For the Last Time
I spoon up time and let its droplets fall
like the test for jelly: minutes
shaken from my life, or
wrenched away: adventures
in the sea, my body the surfboard—will I
be here again? And this:
my friend’s blithe smile,
her refusal to worry. Then
the transatlantic phone call: of
her pulse that surged through
a fragile membrane, betrayed
all those cheerful goodbyes:
a hug, take care, see you—
If only each moment
could gather to itself its own essential parts,
if they were not always
about to fall away, but could fuse into
drops that cling to the flesh—
the Japan Current’s exhilarating swells
warmed by nothing but my body heat,
goodbye after goodbye: each gasp of oxygen
like inhaling dry ice until the last curling breaker
rolls me back into shallow grit.
I tell myself I might never return,
so as not to spend my life trying
to drag back the unthinking instant
before I let the instant go.