Is This History

by Philip Metres 


Is this History, he said.
No, she said, it’s beyond
that door. The exit sign

also shows a way
in. The one who keeps
you from something

keeps you. The day after
yesterday is the day before
tomorrow. No one drinks

for the road, one drinks
to avoid the road. Is this
History, he said. The bow

is the temporary home
to the arrow, as earth is
to soul, the poet wrote,

still resting in the cradle
of the flexing ash. In
fast-motion, a body’s life

betrays the ever-growing
slowing of the self—
perpetuum mobile of childhood,

arced hurtle of youth, the
scrambled adolescence,
postcoital slowdance

of maturity, panicked
flinging of the sudden
middle, the icing

over of the aged—until
the body bathes in the final
stillness. Is this History,

he said. No, she said,
come back two days before
the day after tomorrow.

PHILIP METRES is the author of Pictures at an Exhibition (2016), Sand Opera (2015), I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky (2015), To See the Earth (2008), and others. His work has garnered a Lannan fellowship, two NEAs, the Hunt Prize, Arts & Letters, two Arab American Book Awards, the Cleveland Arts Prize and a PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant. He is professor of English at John Carroll University in Cleveland.