Vivian Learns Present Progressive


We brooders burst into bloom.
—Wendy Videlock

She runs through the house
like a small flying gnome,

one who might choose to hover
over the roots of plants and trees

to summon the cold and the starlight.
But she does not hover tonight.

Mama chasing me, she says,
and she runs with her small feet

quite syncopated and slightly drunk
on the sweet cup of youth, and for

the first time she –ings
in her speech, and the moment

leaps out of the present and leans
into the thought that an object

in motion remains in motion
and life scampers on past this

frame where she and I race around
the green countertop. And the moment,

once all there was, grows wings. And it’s true,
I am chasing, have chased and will still

be chasing her long after her happy squeal
has left its sender to splice the moon.

We end the moment too soon, too soon,
and then spend a whole lifetime trying to unlearn

the present progressive, to wholly embrace
the now. I chase. I love. I learn. I am. We are

and glory be. I would make the moment hover
if I could, and still all my longing and slow

the light as it leaves. But I can’t. And the moment
has slipped its frame and she’s laying in bed

cooing the alphabet in gibberish, a miracle
who is falling but has not yet quite fallen asleep.

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