Shane McCrae


But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful:

for he had great possessions.

            ­– Matthew 19:22



What if I started here       if this

Were the beginning what        except

The differences were small        and kept

Myself       no not the differences


Keeping      and kept some most of what

Before or always I had done

In the midst of winter winter gone

If after this my life were not


So long as long it might have been

If I had spent it running and

Not sitting had not kept        each hand

In a position I had when


I was a child in school I learned

In typing class        to know the letters

Not looking    mine       onlie abettors

If now and after now I turned


Around away from gazing at

The past imagining    I’m look

-ing to the future turned       to look

At the void that is the future but


Emptier than a void        in which

Even the emptiness I’m thinking

Of now will disappear     mine     sinking

Into the future now       its sit


-uation how fast sinking how

Deep it has sunk how long until

It’s gone my any thinking I’ll

Never not even        when I know


Know     but what’s life if not perfect

-ing long a void       if not aban

-doning it life      to have again

From which no sorrow can subtract


Found In Volume 52, No. 03
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Shane McCrae
About the Author

Shane McCrae is the author of eight books of poetry, including Cain Named the Animal (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022), Sometimes I Never Suffered (FSG, 2020), and In the Language of My Captor (Wesleyan University Press, 2017). He teaches at Columbia University and lives in New York City.