Being Serious

Being Serious

An excerpt from “Being Serious,” by Christian Wiman

Serious smiles a lot.
At least that’s what they say,
His Mum and Pop
Trying to be proud
As all the nurses gather round
To squint into the cloud
Of little Serious on the ultrasound.
It’s likely just the way he’s bent,
The head nurse finally thunders
Into the awe and argument
Swirling through the crowd
Where someone mutters half-aloud
In all my years….
Serious never hears.
Serious spins and spins
With his dumb dolphin grin
In the best bed there is,
Where there’s no guilt and no sin,
No child more inner than this;
Nothing to will
And nothing to want,
No body you both are and haunt;
No drug of disappointment
Or feeling that there’s never now
(Or do these seep in somehow?);
No suffering the world’s idiocy
Like a saint its pains;
No traffic and no planes;
No debts, no taxes,
No phones and no faxes;
No rockslide of information
Called the internet.
Serious isn’t. Yet.

“Being Serious” originally appeared in its entirety in the print version of At Length, which no longer exists. To read the whole poem, check out Christian Wiman’s Hard Night. The Editor of Poetry, Wiman is the author most recently of Ambition and Survivial: Becoming a Poet. To make sure you don’t miss future poems from At Length, please sign up for our RSS feed or email list.


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