Two Poems
by Elizabeth Clark Wessel

PRESENT

One thing that worries me is that I might not be present at the right place at the right moment. When I’m sleeping there‘s likely something happening that I should be present at, but when I’m awake it’s even worse. If it’s something I know about, but don’t go to it’s the worst. The only thing worse than the worst is something I know about, but don’t go to that I’m told later was something I would have liked to have been at. I have come across this fear in other people. These people are often the last ones to leave a party, though not always the first to arrive. The only thing that saves me from trying to be everywhere is my indolence. In general it’s very difficult to know if a decision is the right one. Almost immediately after a decision (for example, after placing an order at a restaurant) I feel a small squirt of anxiety and disappointment. What if this has been the wrong decision? And why must decisions preclude other decisions, closing possibility, restricting freedom, and pressing time forward?

 

URVILLE

When the tree died
something had to
take its place
everything’s
not actually touching
but connected
and nothing
is not nothing at all
the oldest living things
in the world
make you feel
young put a spring
back in you
wind you up
climb you
no make you feel like
you’ll die any second
turned to oil
not yet so
lucky
millions of years
mean
really nothing
to you the idea is
like a continent
even your most
beloved continent
you don’t know it at all
someone taught you
there were antartica
there were europe
there were asia
and all those islands
like greenland
whose relative size
was an illusion
created by moving
from three dimensions
to two
like your life
blown all out
all out of proportion
in this denseness
is mostly nothing
99.9% nothing or
more than that
never fear nothing here
it’s just lights on lights off
just lights off lights on just
lights on lights
off lights on
lights lights
light

 

Elizabeth Clark Wessel’s poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in DIAGRAM, A Public Space, Guernica, Sixth Finch, Lana Turner Journal, and The Laurel Review, among others. Her chapbook, Whither Weather, was chosen by Dana Levin for the Midwest Chapbook Series. She lives in Brooklyn and is an editor at Argos Books & Circumference, a journal of poetry in translation.

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by Elizabeth Clark Wessel

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