My little son beside me shapes his letters,
a tremulous M, a not-quite-meeting O,
sticking them with his breath down careful pages,
row on repeated row.
He’ll heir the questions elder, self-styled betters
have jumbled from these same laborious signs,
and find what somehow answered for their ages
has slipped between the lines:
their lingered creeds and dogmas, slackened fetters
no longer strong enough to hold the mind
back from its baffled necessary sieges,
though nothing’s there behind.
He’ll find how little we are still their debtors,
their purposes unpurposed, doubts secured
without assurances, their faith’s self-pledges,
So may he learn resistance to go-getters
prospecting ends and absolutes; be content
to take delight’s quick shapes and sudden edges
as living’s monument.