Now and Forever
Рэй Дуглас Брэдбери

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Futures so far they are ancient

And filled with Egyptian dust,

That smell of the tomb and the lilac,

And seed that is spent from lust,

And peach that is hung on a tree branch

Far out in the sky from one’s reach,

There mummies as lovely as lobsters

Remember old futures and teach.

For a moment he felt his eyes tremble and shut tight, as if to change the lines or make them fade.

Then, as he watched in the darkness, they formed again in the inner twilight of his head, and the words were these:

And children sit by on the stone floor

And draw out their lives in the sands,

Remembering deaths that won’t happen

In futures unseen in far lands.

Somewhere a band is playing

Where the moon never sets in the sky

And nobody sleeps in the summer

And nobody puts down to die;

And Time then just goes on forever

And hearts then continue to beat

To the sound of the old moon-drum drumming

And the glide of Eternity’s feet;

‘Too much,’ he heard himself whisper. ‘Too much. I can’t. Is this the way poems happen? And where does it come from? Is it done?’ he wondered.

And not sure, he put his head back down and closed his eyes and there were these words:

Somewhere the old people wander

And linger themselves into noon

And sleep in the wheat fields yonder

To rise as fresh children with moon.

Somewhere the children, old, maunder

And know what it is to be dead

And turn in their weeping to ponder

Oblivious filed ’neath their bed.

And sit at the long dining table

Where Life makes a banquet of flesh,

Where dis-able makes itself able

And spoiled puts on new masks of fresh.

Somewhere a band is playing

Oh listen, oh listen, that tune!

If you learn it you’ll dance on forever

In June …

And yet June …

And more … June …

And Death will be dumb and not clever

And Death will lie silent forever

In June and June and more June.

The darkness now was complete. The twilight was quiet.

He opened his eyes fully and lay staring at the ceiling in disbelief. He turned in the bed and picked up a picture postcard lying on the nightstand, and stared at the image.

At last he said, half aloud, ‘Am I happy?’

And responded to himself, ‘I am not happy.’

Very slowly he got out of bed, dressed, went downstairs, walked to the train station, bought a ticket and took the first train heading west.
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