Tuesday, May 25, 2010

1. Leaving Alive

I come from
half-way to somewhere,
you were there for most of it, and

concerning half-way we can never be secure
being is better than disappearing
or what the midway is
between a life and its ending.

Not that I think of death, not
that I’m incapacitated by that thought,
even though it adheres to me.

Things adhere to us
that we cannot shake off, that fill
our thoughts, our veins, our lungs.
What we do not want become
us. It is a burden, almost a fear.

Working in the yard today the sun
was furious against my bald head,
and I could imagine myself
with the right wrenching of the spading fork out
of the ground.

The heat and effort reminded me
of a cold February snowshoeing,
pushing myself hard and sweating enough
that I could feel the burning of life,
though I didn’t know
all it was was arteries filled with plaque,
the squeezing of all that heated blood
through my constricted veins.

We are structures of being, bodies
that function without a word from us, interpreting
minds resisting the urge to sleep,
and all we have is time
to make, to do, to love.

There is something I must do.

Tonight, I write you
a letter, and I pretend it’s a poem,
though it’s a poem I wouldn’t otherwise write,
something only the requirement of correspondence
could pull from me. I question everything:

What a poet is, whether I ever
was one, how I ever came to believe
I could do something with words. That
is everything. Except that it isn’t.

The other day I was driving, somehow alone,
and I realized a simple fact: the only point
of this life is to experience joy. That is our purpose.

And as I drove, the car seemed to slow,
to stop, becoming the concept of a car rather
than a car itself, and I realized that joy could be
the littlest part of the day,

and the most important,
for that fact.

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