Catherine Chandler : A Different Art

(after Elizabeth Bishop)

The art of keeping isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be kept that their keeping’s no disaster.

Keep something every day. Accept the fluster
of keeping up with the Joneses. The torment
of keeping secrets isn’t hard to master.

Then practice keeping track of time. And Sister,
keep cool no matter what. To the extent
you keep good company, there’s no disaster.

He kept a mistress, overtaxed his rooster,
and so I told him, Keep in touch, and sent
him packing. Piece of cake to master.

I kept two children (lovely ones), the toaster,
the house, the SUV; and when he went
I kept the faith. It wasn’t a disaster.

I gather every word that I can muster —
a squad, a company, a regiment —
an art of which I’m lady, lord and master:
my castle keep. Keep out! Or face disaster.


Catherine Chandler