Sweetness Within The Pause

Sweetness Within The Pause

 at the dc aquatic gardens, which are lush and uncrowded and remind me of the life that goes on no matter how we think we are shutting things down. 



By Stephen Dunn

Just when it has seemed I couldn’t bear
   one more friend
waking with a tumor, one more maniac
with a perfect reason, often a sweetness
   has come
and changed nothing in the world
except the way I stumbled through it,
   for a while lost
in the ignorance of loving
someone or something, the world shrunk
   to mouth-size,
hand-size, and never seeming small.
I acknowledge there is no sweetness
   that doesn’t leave a stain,
no sweetness that’s ever sufficiently sweet ....
Tonight a friend called to say his lover
   was killed in a car
he was driving. His voice was low
and guttural, he repeated what he needed
   to repeat, and I repeated
the one or two words we have for such grief
until we were speaking only in tones.
   Often a sweetness comes
as if on loan, stays just long enough
to make sense of what it means to be alive,
   then returns to its dark
source. As for me, I don’t care
where it’s been, or what bitter road
   it’s traveled
to come so far, to taste so good.