Winter 2001

 

Patty Seyburn

MANIFESTO OF REGRET AND ACCEPTANCE
I apologize for being late.

I meant to get here yesterday in time to say
what he said.

My affection for meaning should not affect you

dreams--a precipice, a cliff

though I lament that it means something
to you who donít mean.

I apologize for guilt
and feigning guilt, the mea culpa I donít mean.

I apologize for Latin

a language "dead as dead can be/ it killed
the ancient Romans/and now itís killing me"

quoth my father, may he rest in peace,
wherever peace may be, itís not where he was buried
at 8 Mile Road and Woodward
(near the Michigan State Fairgrounds)

and incidentally, Latin did not kill him.

I apologize for death.

For introducing death,
who sews his number into cuffs and hems
in case we need to call.

I apologize for never having clapped.
For thinking, maybe Tinkerbell should die.

(So small.)

For asking: if less is more, then what is more? 
By definition, more than less
though what will last is anybodyís guess.

I have suspicions--who are you?
You are anybody, too.

(So frail.)

I wonít apologize for my parents

and you shouldnít either--you didnít
make them that way--like Larkin said,
their parents did. The same goes if credit is due.
 
I wonít apologize for being a Jew--

all we did was jettison some excess gods,
perfect the allegory, build a temple, build another

with a wailing wall
and on occasion, wail
when the wall reads its messages
and calls (all too often) for grief.

I wonít apologize for awe

though itís difficult to carry and refuses to fly
even harnessed, through the air

which, near the ocean,
is fit for lungs of gods
filtered through a parliament of urchins.

I apologize for some belief
in God,

at least enough that bouts of doubt are departures.
Such convictions do not keep me

from irony parties, at which
cookies shaped like stars are served
and beverages are bittersweet.

I apologize for fear fire fanfare

for ire err desire

for flies lambs limbs

and all the others sacrificed
with no wine to wash them down.

We canít hide timeís keys forever.
Eventually, space will wake up.

Know now: I meant to get here yesterday
before the proclamation, admission, petition

so I could make one myself.

Patty Seyburn's first book of poems, Diasporadic, was published in 1998 by Helicon Nine Editions. She teaches at California Institute of the Arts.

 

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