MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK
Nothing required an account of me
And still I didn’t give one.
I might have been a virtual casualty,
A late victim of the Millennium Bug.
No spontaneity, no insubordination,
Not even any spare capacity.
The luncheon voucher years
(the bus pass and digitized medical record
always in the inside pocket come later,
along with the constant orientation to the nearest hospital).
The years of “sir” (long past “mate,” much less “dearie”),
of invisibility, of woozy pacifism,
of the preemptive smile of the hard-of-hearing,
of stiff joints and the small pains
that will do me in. The ninth complement
of fresh—stale—cells, the Late Middle Years
(say, 1400 AD—on the geological calendar),
the years of the incalculable spreading middle,
the years of speculatively counting down
from an unknown terminus,
because the whole long stack—
shale, vertebrae, pancakes, platelets, plates—
won’t balance anymore, and doesn’t correspond anyway
to the thing behind the eyes that says “I”
and feels uncertain, green and treble
and wants its kilt as it climbs up to the lectern to blush
and read “thou didst not abhor the virgin’s womb.”
The years of taking the stairs two at a time
(though not on weekends)
a bizarre debt to Dino Buzzati’s Tartar Steppe,
the years of a deliberate lightness of tread,
perceived as a nod to Franz Josef
thinking with his knees and rubber-tired Viennese Fiaker.
The years when the dead are starting to stack up.
The years of incuriosity and novarum rerum
incupidissimus, the years of cheap acquisition
and irresponsible postponement, or cheap
postponement and irresponsible acquisition,
of listlessness, of miniaturism, of irascibility,
of being soft on myself, of being hard on myself,
and neither knowing nor especially caring which.
The years of re-reading (at arm’s length).
The fiercely objected-to professional years,
the appalling indulgent years, the years of no challenge
and comfort zone and safely within my borders.
The years of no impressions and little memory.
The years of “I would prefer not”
and “leave me in the cabbage.”
The years of standing in elevators
under the elevator lights in the elevator mirror,
feeling and looking like leathered frizz,
an old cheese-topped dish under an infrared hot plate,
before they kindly took out the lights
and took out the mirror, and slipped in screens
for news, weather, and sponsors’ handy messages.
The years of one over the thirst
Copyright © 2018 by Michael Hofmann