Colonel Bert and the Epistemology of Time


“We” don’t

Would you recognize a great man if time deceived you?

Bert is America

Bert is forgotten

Bert’s wife Ann brought our boys a tray of brownies the day we moved onto the cul-de-sac

Who does that anymore?

A thin, sinewy pillar

chin up, shoulders back

but with a manner of able grace and a twinkle of unwary forebearance

Bert was an artillery colonel but he wouldn’t have you know unless you pry

There are those for whom time yields,

and if you see it, you’ve seen too much

This word, “America,” gets thrown around a lot, though its meaning is actually fragmented

and a fragmented meaning can’t be grasped intuitively

When Ann gets sick Burt reports for visiting hours in ironed slacks and collared shirt

Dignity is a lost art

Every few months now an ambulance takes Ann away while we’re all out

Seasons change, life goes on

Ann rotates between facilities with the utmost christianity

between doctors and blood tests

but none can say what’s really wrong

Funny how they can see inside your cells but cannot see a person

a neighbor, a fellow

Across the street, Bert works afternoons on an old car, ploddingly

and suffers these curious times without all the desperate questions that plague me in my travails

If we shirk our potential must we ignore the man who meets it?

Is the terminus of fellow feeling in a democracy a windowless room?

Bert keeps up a solemn resistance.

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