When - Poem by Adam Fitzgerald
I have not come too late, too late to the house
upon this seldom street. When one is tired
and one searches why one is tired and cannot
sleep, perhaps one fears they have forgot,
forgotten how much to fear one’s self, or
when the night aborts without even a moon’s
retreat, when the flesh that hangs upon the prongs
of one’s dull ribs, heaves and heaves a little less
with each sequent breath, when the lungs traipse
like feet about, abhorring that they must go
where forced to go—then one walks, or
maybe, one never leaves one’s self. Still, I have
come upon a house on an unfamiliar street.
The shudders are blue and blue is not appeasing
when it is worn and worn enough
so that it looks faded, faded even if a light
easily seems to breathe an appearance new.
But it is a worn and faded blue, and I
am walking when the night drags on
And forgets itself. Once, I thought I knew this self.
Rather, I have forgotten how to fear myself—yet
I have not come too late. The house is hedged—
I mean to say, the shrubs around the house are hedged,
the house itself is no more than a stuck mixing of stone.
When I came to this street (and I do not know
its name) , when I came to this house
and my chest lessened as if knowing, now,
I might rest; resting I feared I had come too late.
There is another house to the left, and surely one beyond
and beyond the one beyond; here, I’ll sit.
I’ll sit on the silent stoop. Here I’ll wait a face to greet
(and though I know not whose house this is)
if someone asks why I’m here or why I seem
to always eye with fear—if someone should
passing across the lawn ask anything at all,
easily passing because there is no gate,
I’ll say, or seem to say, I hope I haven’t come
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