The Major Subjects

By LAWRENCE RAAB

Death is easier
than love. And true feeling, as someone said,
leaves no memory. Or else memory
replaces the past, which we know
never promised to be true.

 

Consider the sea cucumber:
when attacked it divides, sacrificing half
so that half
won’t get eaten. Can the part left undevoured
figure out what to do?

 

The natural world is always instructive,
mysterious as well, but often
hard to praise. Love
is also difficult—the way it slides into
so many other subjects,

 

like murder, deceit,
and the moon. As my mother used to say
about anything
we couldn’t find: If it had been
a snake it would have bitten you.

 

Fellow poets, we must
learn again to copy from nature,
see for ourselves
how steadfastly even its beauty
refuses to care or console.

 

 

Lawrence Raab is the author of seven collections of poems, most recentlyThe History of Forgetting and A Cup of Water Turns into a Rose.

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The Major Subjects

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