The Story We Know
The way to begin is always the same. Hello,
Hello. Your hand, your name. So glad, just fine,
and Good bye at the end. That's every story we know,
and why pretend? But lunch tomorrow? No?
Yes? An omelette, salad, chilled white wine?
The way to begin is simple, sane, Hello,
and then it's Sunday, coffee, the Times, a slow
day by the fire, dinner at eight or nine
and Good bye. In the end, this is a story we know
so well we don't turn the page, or look below
the picture, or follow the words to the next line:
The way to begin is always the same Hello.
But one night, through the latticed window, snow
begins to whiten the air, and the tall white pine.
Good bye is the end of every story we know
that night, and when we close the curtains, oh,
we hold each other against that cold white sign
of the way we all begin and end. Hello,
Good bye is the only story. We know, we know.
- Martha Collins, from The Catastrophe of Rainbows (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1985; reissued 1998)
This is another poem I copied down in high school journal, next to the last stanza of Robert Frost's Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening. More melancholy verses -- today to be shared with the cyberworld and beyond -- at a wrung sponge.