Through the word—which is already a presence made of absence—absence itself comes to be named
Our lives are lived toward what
we cannot name—
There are no words for things
not having words.
There are no days in which there is no yesterday.
One day, though,
there will be no tomorrow.
Today might be an open door
or a closed window.
Who knows what we see when we are not looking.
What if this side is really the other?
What if all you’ve forgotten is really what you are?
What if everything you have lost
is really some sort of accrual?
Our disease is more than mere affliction,
more than not knowing addition from subtraction.
It has something to do with what lies beneath excess,
or what hides behind it.
This is why time is torn
between history and the past.
And why we may wonder who we will become
and not understand who we are,
the way boy in a boat on his back can never know
the depths of the blue above
cannot fathom the fartheset darkness,
and yet his floating is its own form of belief,
the way sight is its own form of blindness,
writing its own kind of erasure—
as though language, like life,
exists only to end—
glacier forest self—
when have we not shared
the same body?
Dean Rader has written, edited, or co-edited eleven books, including Works & Days, winner of the 2010 T. S. Eliot Prize, Bullets into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence, edited with Brian Clements & Alexandra Teague, and Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry, a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award and the Northern California Book Award. Recent work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Harvard Review, New England Review, Waxwing, Kenyon Review, Terrain, Southern Review, BOMB, Ploughshares, Zyzzyva, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Best of the Net. He is a professor at the University of San Francisco and the recipient of a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry.