Past Participle

by krstaten

The English language leaves room
for the space between Is
and Was.

It Has Been a good life.
He Has Been a good father.

Language reminds us
that between then and now,
there is a continuation
in which we have permission to exist.

But human memory works in binaries
of past and present tense:
Watching him weed the rose garden,
catching thorns in his hands
like playing baseball with his sons;
Him watching those flowers thrive
like seeing his daughter’s first
band recital.

Blueprints for a house
that was never built.
A kitchen full of cabinets
without doors.
Proofs of almosts.
Promises of more time.

And then:
A girl with his burning eyes,
Two boys with his carpenter hands.

English does not have room
for the space occupied by both Was
and Will Be.
This is a continuation
for which language cannot accommodate.

In the interim we write poetry
in past tense about things
that are not yet Was.


We have received news that my father-in-law is not expected to make it through the weekend.

His family is struggling. If anyone would be willing, there is a GoFundMe account to help with their final expenses. If you’d like to help them out, the link is here.