Sometimes I think I should try to write poetry.
Because if I don’t I can’t explain how hard it is to live
While a mourning dove limps on one leg along the road,
Or maybe wingless, waiting for a predator,
Or my dog, or a car on its way to Whole Foods.
How hard it is to drink the morning’s Italian coffee
While migrants struggle in tents colored mud
Or in boats crossing the Mediterranean
Which I love to swim when I’m in Tel-Aviv.
Or the chipmunk on top of piles of yellow leaves
Where Aussie left it, still breathing,
Caught while gathering food for winter.
I can’t do it in prose. The mind rules in prose, and will immediately philosophize, or remind me what the Buddha said, or what Bernie said, and bring things down to size. It will work the unworkable, open up books or Google, or just meander me down some mental path that feels new and unexplored but ends up in abstraction.
It whispers Buddhist instructions: Live every moment, inhale and exhale. Be the One Body that inhales and exhales.
But Aussie has seized up a snake just beneath the fence—I didn’t think they’d be out so late this autumn—one end sticking out of each corner of her mouth, and when I yell at her, leaves it gently on the ground after shaking it. I walk over and watch it try to coil, and try again, and try again.
The mind can’t abide questions, so it answers, and answers, and answers.
In Maui long ago I sat on the beach sipping Mai Tais through a straw while fishermen checked the lines they’d left all night and pulled in mahi and ono under the friendly island sun. The fish leaped high over the waves, showering loops of aquamarine raindrops from their pink fins, as slowly slowly they got pulled in to the yellow sand.
Please don’t call this life and death. why Maybe you’ll note how the fruity flavor in your mouth turns sour, how busily you start making excuses, but it don’t change a thing. Some lounge in beaches, some drown.
In such a universe, can I be anything other than a guest? Can I tell the host how to set the table, that the chair wobbles under me, and that I don’t eat eggplant?
In poetry is where the basic impossibility of things comes out.
The fewer the lines, the bigger the spaces.
And they hold, and hold, and hold.
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