I

Perhaps by the time I have written this
the last three or four will also be gone:
not many people will mark a few less

old men who live only as candle flame
dropped until the short time when it consumes
itself already consumed, and will burn

remembrance of its burning. By these names,
however, some, as I, the unready,
the ones who touch beginnings, returns, times,

symmetries, as commemorations, stay
our countless anniversaries of change
past their still unaccustomed frequency;

we will hold ourselves to each last naming.
By such we are inescapably caught,
our own fearful totems, not just to bring

shoring against the sensed precipitate,
increasing, even now in fingers’ ends,
through the blood, of living, but to indict

someone, any other, as sharer, found,
by saying I know, me too, here am I
who will soon have thirty years unexplained,

unrevealed, unrevealing, know’st thou me?
But what final understanding may grow
from each passing, only the two or three

(the flame burning its consumed self) will know.