“Fear of Death” by John Ashbery
What is it now with me
And is it as I have become?
Is there no state free from the boundry lines
Of before and after? The window is open today
And the air pours in with piano notes
In its skirts, as though to say, “Look, John,
I’ve brought these and these”—that is,
A few Beethovens, some, Brahmses,
A few choice Poulenc notes. . . . Yes,
It is being free again, the air, it has to keep coming back
Because that’s all it’s good for.
I want to stay with it out of fear
That keeps me from walking up certain steps,
Knocking at certain doors, fear of growing old
Alone, and of finding no one at the evening end
Of the path except another myself
Nodding a curt greeting: “Well, you’ve been awhile
But now we’re back together, which is what counts.”
Air in My path, you could shorten this,
But the breeze has dropped, and silence is the last word.