The Grand and Damaging Parade

Oh, God, and one more. I’m sorry (though, really, why ever apologize for great poetry?). It’s just that I thought I was new to Kay Ryan, and then I discovered, just now, this poem in the book I took out from the Greenport library last week, and was shocked: I had had this poem hanging on my various work bulletin boards for years! I guess it was in The New Yorker some time in the very olden days, and it spoke to me then too.

Things Shouldn’t Be So Hard

A life should leave
deep tracks:
ruts where she
went out and back
to get the mail
or move the hose
around the yard;
where she used to
stand before the sink,
a worn-out place;
beneath her hand
the china knobs
rubbed down to
white pastilles;
the switch she
used to feel for
in the dark
almost erased.
Her things should
keep her marks.
The passage
of a life should show;
it should abrade.
And when life stops,
a certain space—
however small—
should be left scarred
by the grand and
damaging parade.
Things shouldn’t
be so hard.

—Kay Ryan


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