In typical Ashberyesqueness, that's not an easy poem. Here's what I have made of it, the far paler rendition:
Poem Coming On
Ashbery’s sense of it—the stranger, always moving
toward you across the next rise, all the people
you haven’t yet met, don’t yet know,
but who are coming on. The sense of someone
out there, moving in a life, now washing the dishes,
now pruning the roses, now talking on the phone.
They cry and make love and laugh out loud
without you. Bury their mother. Stop for coffee
at the corner and glance at the morning
headlines. Show up at the family barbecue.
When you do know them—when the point
of meeting finally does arrive—your life
and theirs no longer remember difference.
Perspective shifts. You see the two lives
as a painter sees the hay bales sitting in the fields:
black boxes against green. No dimensions.
I do think people--and situations, events--are constantly in an unpredictable line aimed at yours. To flinch from the meeting is perhaps to miss a destiny. (That said by someone who resists the idea of destiny at every turn.)
Yesterday, I was sworn in on a criminal jury in downtown L.A. It's at least a month-long trial. It's going to be intense and discomfiting and nothing I can speak of in any detail until it's over. Yet I do feel (in yet a diffuse way) that this experience was put in my way for a reason. Can't explain that. I certainly don't feel like the case needs me in any way. More like I need it.
I'll let you know. Eventually.
And though I'm not there as a writer first, in any stretch of the imagination, the first poem will undoubtedly be titled, "Voir Dire."