It is enough if my poem
fills only one minute of your life;
if it packs it brim-full, packs it quickly
with a thick vigor in it,
with a vital punch, for just one minute.
And then let it be forgotten,
its sweet residue dissipating in the
rush of the next minute’s press.
It will have achieved its noblesse oblige.
Its raison d’etre seized: to have dressed
one minute with the elegance
for which all minutes were meant.
And come another million years,
come the extinction of memory
and all memorials—that for one
minute it thrived in one place
and one time, though it not survive,
it can never for a minute be erased.
What does it mean for a work of art to “stand the test of time”? What is the relationship of any meaningful act to the movement of time? Is it worthwhile to spend time and energy on something that most people will never see, and those who do will soon forget? Will the kind smile, the tender kiss, the poem, the song, the painting, the dance, the extended hand—will these momentary gifts once swallowed up in time’s relentless tide be lost forever? Or not?