Looking after children means
   simultaneously building a field hospital,
a hedge school, a diner, and an open-air
   prison with my bare hands
and operating them at a continual loss.
   In this instant they are playing

and I’m sitting on a bench where the
   unhindered sun applies itself
and I can feel it on my skin asking how it’s
   been since we last touched,
and I tell her things are all right mostly:
   the sky is the epitome of sky,

the clouds give birth to themselves, the little
   people are getting even better
at belittling the bigger people, and I am
   done in. I think I did my bit.
Birdwatching today in Central Park until I
   saw an osprey with a fish

in its beak and a splinter in a finger meant
   we had to walk out and hail
a cab and I saw the booth on Sixth had its
   phone yanked off and wires
dangled. It took me to the endless
   conversation about silence at dinner

the night before where my wife had talked
   of John Cage and the persistence
of absence in presence, or something, and
   the Mexican writer listed
the word for quiet in six languages and
   I said nothing, offering, I thought,

the most evincive contribution. Now the
   sun is trying to tell me something
by splitting through the cloud like that.
   Some secret as to how its light
walks and flies at the same time, or why the
   nature of formations—clouds

or crowds or marriage—is that they tend
   to dissolve, and why is there
such an effort in just not. Heaven is a
   past participle of heave. The fountain
will continue to replenish itself until she,
   the sun, sets, when it will slump

to the pool. I’d like to hear more about
   that sometime but not quite yet.
I want to know if all lives viewed from
   the inside present as a series
of failures. I want the side door held ajar
   a moment. This is permacrisis,

sun. It’s grim; the era of collapsing systems,
   of gaming the algorithm,
of the discontent late capitalism must inflict
   on us for it to thrive.
What I want is old friends who admit to
   complications, not followers

or allies. The instantaneous personal
   magnetism of other people
is almost overwhelming sometimes,
   whether attractive or repelling.
The sun rests its hand on my skin and
   everyone and says softly,

Look how I alight on the rock dove and
   the litter bin alike,
useless to corporations, dazzling the froth
   of the cottonwood,
bespectacled pianist, interstitial fauna,
   three angry kings of meth,

lovers solving the crossword, a Chinese student
   quietly crying,
all varying configurations of the code,
   and you wait until I disappear
before wandering back to the apartment
   in the way that fire wanders

to make dinner and clean up and
   bathe the children and tell them stories.