Like Everybody I Had Assumed I Wouldn’t Live to Be This Old


What are those

gnats     and bones the kinds of things

I see there and would say there’s nothing there     / Forty

a tidepool and the life


gone rushing in

From where the ocean it’s     gone far too out

to see and it is here

At once and suddenly it’s gone again


To nothing but it comes and I come gawking I come stumbling up

The beach if up if from the / Ocean was where I thought it was

At even     thirty I was sure it was

at twenty I was sure


From meaning where if it was there from down or from

No reference no direction come

Stumbling to the pool

to be I come to be


Disgusted by the water and the living things inside it     like a child

Expecting like a child disgust

To be disgusted by the harder now to tell the difference really see it

The difference between


Those living things I always thought were somehow

Lesser than me    and me

At forty I am nearer to

Those living things I always thought were somehow


Lesser than me     than me

And closer to them     / Nearer and closer to     and so I come to be

Disgusted by them writhing in the sand and the wet sand

And hopping from the sand to the pond     / And cirling above the pond


Gnats circling some other kind     of bug     hopping and is it I

Never know what to call them

crabs     at

forty I have given up


Assuming I can name

rightly the things I see / At forty now I give my name

To everything     / I see and I will never see     to the

Unknowable I add my name

Shane McCrae is the author of Mule, Blood, Forgiveness Forgiveness, and The Animal Too Big to Kill, which won the 2014 Lexi Rudnitsky/Editor's Choice Award, and will be published by Persea in September. He teaches at Oberlin College and in the low residency MFA program at Spalding University, and lives in Oberlin, Ohio.