I believe in a moment where things
come into themselves and everything
before and after is a kind of fading.
I believe, most days, in words
(as I might in diamonds) but
I try them between my teeth before I buy them.
I believe in truth, insofar
as it is a word with an almost
infinite number of synonyms
(though I can seldom think of any
and, when I can, am inclined to think
they’re probably just something I’ve invented).
On a more sanguine note
I believe I may be dangerous
(to myself as much as to others),
inclined as I am to self-belief—
and this despite the evidence—
though when alone I’m known to compromise.
I believe in making deals,
in foreign influence, new ideas,
in changing minds, too—my own especially.
I believe in love and sex
and children, if they believe
in me. But this could be wishful thinking.
Truths and Rights? Well, these few here
appear self-evident, as they say:
life and the various pursuits.
Otherwise known as loss.
This I believe the ultimate truth:
the liberty to permit oneself to lose.
In the roundness of the planet
(for practical purposes), in life and art
as electromagnetic waves across the surface.
Of something unknown. This I believe.
And in this planet in my absence,
despite Berkeley’s seductive philosophy.
In the future, therefore, though English
has evolved no tense for it
as if somehow doubting its existence.
So it would seem that I believe
against the odds, against words.
But I believe. Witness my belief.
I believe in things other,
things external, in history,
but in something like its opposite too:
a time unmeasured by events,
where clocks are works of naive art
like milk bottles left out beneath the moon.
I believe in a kind of Zen that says
dim the light to find the stars,
and in the little doll, the pupil, of the eye.
In rhyme, sometimes. I like the slow
almost wary fall of a word to its echo,
but I also like half-pairs, surprise—
And yet some warning might have helped
to make it easier when you left
last week. Though equally it might not.
If life’s a relay, not a race,
doesn’t that somehow help to explain
why progress is so often felt as loss?
Always back to loss. Still I believe
it is the handshake that makes the best
and most positive symbol of the human
(though I also rate the kiss
and, in recent times, the Mexican wave;
superstrings, not cause-and-effect chains).
In short (and what else is there?)
I believe the only real prayer
is a list, not of requests but of beliefs;
and this phenomenon of naming
is just another form of breathing
that reminds me how to be and how to leave.