Spring 1999 • Vol. XXI No. 2 PoetryApril 1, 1999 |

The Geography of Time

We think of time past as the old country where grandparents and parents came from. We try to accord it, therefore, a kind of honor. We set days aside in its name. We speak with respect of those who have died there. We care little, though, for those who live there still, or for anything left there. "What does it matter?" we say, "It's in the past," and tear off a calendar page and answer the phone. That leaves only the present and the future. And we do believe in the present. We pledge allegiance to it every day. The future's another country, one we're all being shuffled off to like the long lines of losers in some anonymous war, never having seen anyone who has been there, knowing nearly nothing about it, not even the language, not even the clothes to wear.

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Miller Williams was author, editor, or translator of twenty-eight books, including twelve volumes of poetry. He was widely recognized with national and international awards and with two honorary degrees and was inaugural poet for the second inauguration of President Clinton. Recent books of poetry include Living on the Surface: New and Selected Poems (LSU Press), Adjusting to the Light (University of Missouri Press), and Points of Departure and The Ways We Touch (both from University of Illinois Press).

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