No More Second Chances

I am standing out on the edge of a cliff. There’s no way to stay balanced here, because the wind is coming from all directions—a big push from the east, a wave from the north: I know the too-violent shove from the south is coming. This is life. I am fifty-four years old, and the youthful dance with the winds has turned to a fight to keep from falling. I no longer have an interest in this battle. I’m tired, and I’m sad.

From this dark place, tonight, there’s something for you: love the people you love well. Be as kind and unselfish as you can be. They are only on this planet for a nanosecond, and you, their person, will have a huge effect on their tiny, fleeting, windy moment of a life. Don’t think you’re insignificant; you’re not. You are very powerful. You hold their life in your hand. This is it, right now. There is nothing but this. Someday, without any warning, there will be no more fun todays, no more sweet tonights, no more let’s, and let’s, no more chances. Your time for one more chance will be gone forever. Be careful.

Anyway, here’s one of my favorite poems. It’s by Louise Glück. She’s talking to God.


In your extended absence, you permit me
use of earth, anticipating
some return on investment. I must report
failure in my assignment, principally
regarding the tomato plants.
I think I should not be encouraged to grow
tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold
the heavy rains, the cold nights that come
so often here, while other regions get
twelve weeks of summer. All this
belongs to you: on the other hand,
I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots
like wings tearing the soil, and it was my heart
broken by the blight, the black spot so quickly
multiplying in the rows. I doubt
you have a heart, in our understanding of
that term. You who do not discriminate
between the dead and the living, who are, in consequence,
immune to foreshadowing, you may not know
how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf,
the red leaves of the maple falling
even in August, in early darkness: I am responsible
for these vines.