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This article is taken from PN Review 244, Volume 45 Number 2, November - December 2018.

Ce qu’il reste à vivre Marilyn Hacker
I waste the hours still left to me of life:
laundry, bronchitis, weightless messages,
perpetual distraction of the news:
disaster with explanatory graph,
a photo, survivors’ shock and disbelief,
multiplied hourly in two languages.
I nurse my conscience, old child nursing a bruise.
Distress, desire, dismay, digression, grief
for the improbable. A passion turned
to an exchange of trivialities,
while crucial friendship dribbles out long distance.
A revolution where the cities burned
made the insurgents into refugees
and bare survival saps all their resistance.

And then it seemed survival meant resistance
to the unspeakable – its blusters, threats,
simian menaces and caprine bleats
(unfair to animals), sleepless insistence
that all remain aware of its existence…
The splattered incoherence of its tweets
has sullied discourse, silenced our regrets
with fear and loathing. Oh, remember Wystan’s
late lively efforts at a tour de force,
inured to politics by words in orders,
echoing Middle English, Greek, Latin, Norse,
that he could, wistful, ludic, rearrange.
The monoglots are having their revenge,
armed at their checkpoints, shutting down borders.

Subletters, roommates, short-term tenants, boarders
in wintry walk-ups of precarity –
unemployed, overage, widowed, refugee
or redundant – senescent hoarders
of lit mags, Libyan dinars, rolls of quarters:
here we are, hunkered down, superfluous.
The times are dark. The dark settles on us.

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