distant regard


Distant Regard
Tony Hoagland
If I knew I would be dead by this time next year I believe I would
spend the months from now till then writing thank-you notes to strangers
and acquaintances,
telling them, “You really were a great travel agent,” or
“I never got the taste of your kisses out of my mouth.” or
“Watching you walk across the room
was part of my destination.”
It would be the equivalent, I think, of leaving a chocolate wrapped in
shiny foil on the pillow of a guest in a hotel–
“Hotel of earth, where we resided for some years together,” I
start to say, before I realize it is a terrible cliche,
and stop, and then go on, forgiving myself in a mere split second
because now that I’m dying, I just go forward like water, flowing
around obstacles
and second thoughts, not getting snagged, just continuing with my long
list of thank-yous, which seems to naturally expand
to include sunlight and wind, and the aspen trees which gleam and
shimmer in the yard and the intricate irrigation system
which nourishes their roots invented by an individual whose name I will
never know but to whom I am quietly grateful.
Outside it is autumn, season when cold air sharpens the mind. The hills
are red and copper in their shaggy majesty.
The clouds blow overhead like governments and years. Time to contemplate
the distant things, to learn from their example of calm;
time to practice affection without a desperate hanging on. It took me a
long time to understand the phrase “distant regard,”
but I believe that I get it now, and I am grateful for my heart, that
turned out to be good, after all;
and grateful for my mind, to which, in retrospect, I can see I have
never been sufficiently kind.

Photo by Waranont Wichittranont on Unsplash