Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"The Aorist Tense"

We grieve in vain
For memory’s wandering off,
That favorite corduroy jacket of the mind,
Worn, thread-bare, elbows patched.
A young man learned three different times
Then lost
The aorist tense in Greek
And how to extract the meat
From soft-shelled crabs,
Wielding with a surgeon’s skill
Tiny tweezers and scalpels,
Sugar, vinegar at the ready.
These days, when there is need,
He slips inconspicuously
Into the computer chair
And lets Google help recall
Who played first base
For the Philadelphia A’s
In the summer of ’48.
It’s been a while since he’s had need
Of the Greek aorist
And many years and miles
From Shibe Park
Or the shores of the Chesapeake Bay:
That friend who had the cottage there—
Gone now, of course;
What was his name?

November 2008