The Present

by Billy Collins

Much has been said about being in the present.

It’s the place to be, according to the gurus,

like the latest club on the downtown scene,

but no one, it seems, is able to give you directions.

It doesn’t seem desirable or even possible

to wake up every morning and begin

leaping from one second into the next

until you fall exhausted back into bed.

Plus, there’d be no past

with so many scenes to savor and regret,

and no future, the place you will die

but not before flying around with a jet-pack.

The trouble with the present is

that it’s always in a state of vanishing.

Take the second it takes to end

this sentence with a period––already gone.

What about the moment that exists

between banging your thumb

with a hammer and realizing

you are in a whole lot of pain?

What about the one that occurs

after you hear the punch line

but before you get the joke?

Is that where the wise men want us to live

in that intervening tick, the tiny slot

that occurs after you have spent hours

searching downtown for that new club

and just before you give up and head back home?


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