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Mission by A.R. Ammons

A.R. Ammons

The wind went over
      Why are you so distressed

Oh I said I
can’t seem to make
      round enough to last

But why
the wind
      should you be so distressed

as if anything here belonged to you
as if anything here were your concern


I wonder if the wind holds ancient wisdom. I wonder what it says about the human struggle against the temporal—the desire to make something enduring in a world that is in a constant state of flux—when its very being embodies that which is fleeting. Have you ever wanted to make something last and then suddenly come to an understanding of your own limitations against the forces of change?

What in life is truly mine? I confront myself and wrestle with the fact that things will end, that there might be a life without all of this. Do I embrace it, or do I resist? This is a challenging proposition that strips away the ego, the illusion of control and human pretensions—I am but a small and inconsequential part of the vast universe.

What I want to last: the way you look at me. The way you make me laugh and laugh. And kisses, always kisses.

Have you ever been afraid of your own insignificance. In the face of the sobering reality of our existence, how does one find meaning? Has it all been a fruitless pursuit?

What I can say is mine, despite the tension between the ephemeral and the eternal: my incessant longing for your hand on the small of my back. Moments when I watch the way light moves on your face. How you hold my name in your mouth.

Meanwhile, time marches on. Transience is a gift—a radical reimagining of my relationship with the world, of my understanding of life and my place within it. If things aren’t meant to last then let me ask for more kisses.


This poem appeared in POETRY, Volume 110 Number 3, published by The Poetry Foundation, 1967. Shared here with profound gratitude.


Read more works by A.R. Ammons • Find books by this poet • Or view my library


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On this day

Comments (6)

  • This too shall pass

  • Heidi-Marie

    Soul-searching and insightful 👌

  • Beautiful and attentive marginalia. Thank you!


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