Dorianne Laux
Timing

Ah, timing. Woody Allen says

it’s everything. I say it’s nothing,

can’t touch it, wear it, hold it up

between your fingers and shake it

like a napkin. Timing is what you have

when you don’t have anything else,

a facility with the wine list, a joke

that hits the bull’s eye in the spongy

marrow of the funny bone. Or death,

that takes timing too, to elude,

you must bend to pick up the fork

you nervously, clumsily dropped

so the bullet that whizzed through the wall

from the shop next door where a man

of few words was holding up

a terrified clerk lost his balance

for a moment and the gun went off,

the bullet marked to end the next thought

in your roundly specific head sailing

straight through the window, shattering

the harmless glass, nicking the letter D

on the marquee across the street, a movie

you meant to see after dinner with a woman

who could become your wife, but who now

looks at you as if you were a wanted man, a man

with a foreseeable future, though not

in the way you had hoped.

 
Found In Volume 39, No. 04
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Dorianne Laux
About the Author

Dorianne Laux's books include The Book of Men (W. W. Norton & Co, 2012); Facts About the Moon (2005), which was the recipient of the Oregon Book Award, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Smoke (BOA Editions, 2000); What We Carry (1994), finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Awake (1990), which was nominated for the San Francisco Bay Area Book Critics Award for Poetry.