This poem appears in the Fall 2021 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe to the journal, click here.

“the radical contingency of the world”
                        —Bishop Robert Barron

Clean and warm, a sleeping baby
dies in his crib. We have not had
enough of baby. We want more.

A young barista perishes
in a pileup: just like that, she’s gone
into the vacuum we abhor.

Slowly, an aged father dwindles,
eases away—too soon for us,
if not for him—through a one-way door.

Someone loves us, then they don’t,
and all our litanies of loss
will not bring back what we had before.

Love, health, memory, skill:
ours but not ours, we learn, in this
long-lasting and uncivil war.

Keep your cloudy eternity.
We are not gluttons. All we want,
right here, right now, is a long encore.

The Lord giveth like a playground bully,
                    taketh back grinning all his gifts:
                    taketh back, and doth not restore.