Howard Firkin
We both know you’re not reading this and I’m
not writing now. Another reads. Hello,
unknown. So how am I supposed to know
what words to write to you and you-in-time
and other you? We both know nothing’s known.
When you were very small, when you first learnt
that things had names that you could mispronounce,
and swallowed their prevention’s bitter ounce
of pounding cure and had your fingers burnt,
when you were very small, what were you shown?

I saw a curtain move and almost part.
I saw a flame. I saw wax turned to grime.
We both knew our same nothings from the start,
but now I understand it: nothing’s time.