A boy came up the street and there was a girl.
“Hello,” they said in passing, then didn’t pass.
They began to imagine. They imagined all night
and woke imagining what the other imagined.
Later they woke with no need to imagine.
They were together. They kept waking together.
Once they woke a daughter who got up
and went looking for something without looking back.
But they had one another. Then one of them died.
It makes no difference which. Either. The other
tried to imagine dying, and couldn’t really,
but died later, maybe to find out,
though probably not. Not everything that happens
is a learning experience. Maybe nothing is.
John Ciardi (1916-1986), taught at both Harvard and Rutgers Universities before leaving academia in 1961 to dedicate more time to his own literary pursuits. With an eye to cultivating an interest in poetry among the general public, he wrote for the average reader without sacrificing intellectual complexity. His commercial success led one critic to describe him thus: “John Ciardi long has been the rare American who could walk into a bank, declare his occupation as ‘poet,’ and emerge with a mortgage.”