Because last week I read how a clerk
in Dostoyevsky’s *The Idiot *tried to comfort
Nastasya by reading to her from the Book of Revelations,
and because today three different friends joked
about the Apocalypse arriving now,
I turn to John of Patmos to see what hope he offers.
One can only watch so much news
from Washington without risking despair,
but the Gospels offer solace, it seems,
though first the sun over Seattle
will turn black as sackcloth, the moon over Milwaukee
blood red, and stars will fall on Sarasota
while the people of Pittsburgh retreat to caves,
and the pale rider devastates the Bible Belt.
One last check on the news—
no sign yet of the Great Dragon appearing on Trump Tower—
and then I read before bed, Dostoyevsky again,
where by dreamlike chance I find a consumptive boy
quoting an Angel from the Apocalypse:
And there shall be no more time.
He means that time will end for him when he dies,
though I wonder if the Bible means life itself will slam shut.
Night falls on America, I try to sleep,
then search for the earlier passage in which Myshkin
meditated on those same words
and found a different meaning: *There shall be *
no more time describes that last second
before a seizure strikes,
when all is beautiful and unified,
when one might visit in an instant
the many rooms of paradise;
Myshkin describes a moment so blessed
that he would trade his whole life if he had to.
I get up and—forgive me—turn the news back on,
then step outside to see if the constellations are holding tight,
and the bells from the harbour and blurry stars
feel part of a dream that can’t be explained
but that knows and means more than is apparent.
Later, the wind has a lot to say on this first night
of the next four years. I can’t remember who said
Despair is the one sin that can’t be forgiven,
but Prince Myshkin said, Beauty shall save the world.
Morning brings news of millions of women
marching in Washington and around the country,
around the world, a heartening swell of resistance.
And these words scribbled on the paper by my bedside table:
There shall be no more time for keeping silence.
Or there shall be no more time.