We’ve spent our entire lives
looking at scenes that will someday disappear
and yet we are happy much of the time,
centered on the illusion of permanence.
Every house, every church, every factory
or office we’ve ever been thrilled or angry
or bored in is going to fall to pieces eventually.
Maybe we’ll live to see it, maybe we will be
the ones to do it by fire or dynamite,
with sledgehammers or through simple neglect,
but it’s going to happen with or without us
and until it does, we will pretend it will never happen.
More than once I’ve had the joy of shifting
a public view — I put hammer and crowbar
into play, slamming down old boards and pulling up
rotted floors, changing what was once a fact
into a memory of fact. Life went on without
the shed and the garage. I can see them if I squint
at the spaces where they were, but there are people
who never knew they were there and for them things
are just fine as they are now.
Things were just fine as they once were, too.
Nothing is permanent, and every thing is fine that way.
Things change. We change. Things don’t matter much.
What matters is us changing ourselves
to fit into the changing nature of things.
We move into impermanence while clinging to things.
We pretend about things, and hem and haw and fight and weep over things;
things that will inevitably disappear just as we will inevitably
disappear from the sight of others, through fire or dynamite,
by our own neglect or choice, by the sheer force of time
if by nothing else; yet somehow we are content
to pretend otherwise much of the time
as we look at scenes from which we will
someday disappear, scenes that will someday
disappear: the central illusion of permanence.