The little boy who snuggles next to me
while I read him Millions of Cats,
and we meow together
“No, I am the prettiest!” “I am!” “I am!”
is five. I’m sixty. The book is eighty-one.
I have read it before.

Durable, evocative, stale, weary;
renewable, exhaustible, and placid;
benign or neutral, shifty as the moon;
obedient to undeciphered laws:
What we take for granted
vanishes, reconfigures, disappears.

Samos, Squirrel Island, Spetses,
Cherry Tree Walk down by the Hudson River:
The massive stones on which I love to perch
and gaze into the changed, unchanging water
don’t tell me their age, and I don’t ask.
I have been here before.

Rachel Hadas