A WAITING GAME
This is the game/ we keep engaging in, Finding/ a Good Stopping Point by/ Seeing Clues in the Universe./ Tell me when, that’s us,/ grinding, waiting. Say when. ---Hannah Stephenson
Looking for a good time to stop,
is to stop looking like slumping
on a fallen trunk or a trail rock
jagged and jutting out of the bluff.
Morning walks get longer along
empty spaces before familiar curbs
signal a turn to what we wait for:
the final bend. We are back home.
“HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME.
Now Albert is coming back,
make yourself a bit smart.”* Eliot,
of course, said it for me earlier.
How long ago was that, when I
read those Wasteland lines? How
long have I waited to use them?
Is this a good time, yet? I waited.
Because we have seen the clues,
because we have seen them all
already, I feel it is time to stop
waiting, sum up the bill, and go.
What was I given to bear the pain
of knowing that I did not know?
Or build a home I could not live in?
What tools must I now return?
In summing up, I will discount this,
in the game of haggling for a place
back in the Garden. Our stay here
was overpaid. We waited too long
for that room with a better view,
that terrace with a canopy of roses,
and blue birds trilling on the sill.
O, for a touch of that distant sky!
Next time around, if there is one,
I will be smart. I will settle only for
a room where I could see the sky
and the sea conspire to eat the sun.
---Albert B. Casuga
* T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland, II. A Chess Game, T. S. Eliot, The Complete Poems and Plays, 1909-1950)