Why go into it when just knowing that
it’s there without you makes it more itself?
And who are those who don their boots and packs
and make of it an emblem of their freedom?
Is it then less a wilderness, its starlight
seen, its torrents heard, its bear discovered?
Meanwhile the blood pursues its steady course;
the kidneys, lungs and liver function in
their secret chambers to support a brain
that like so many others works to make
an artifice of everything it senses.
It wants to smell the pines, taste the berries,
feel the brook and get away
from the interstate it took to get it there.
I’ve come all this way on these elevator
shoes, the miles stretching out behind me,
the emptiness of my purpose becoming greater
as I move farther and farther from the sea.
Brandishing lilies, the newly dead don’t
see any reason not to give me a little
shove. It’s as if I’m made of lard but won’t
acknowledge the fact due to my brittle
exterior. Pretty bugs have always had
it in for me, probably because I watch
my step when I should be going like mad
with the swatter, taking them down a notch,
heaving my bulk around in a cartoon-style
attempt to make it all seem worthwhile.
Why tell the shadows to hurry up? It’s not
as if each blossom on the lupine had its own moth
or fostered some happy drowse for those of us
excluded from the scuttlebutt. No,
the constant tweeting went on somewhere else
in someone else’s idea of a poem while
the more industrious among us made batteries
out of potatoes. No one told the squirrels
to shut up for the time being, so Olaf,
feeling as if he’d been singled out,
hugged himself and wept in the prow of the dingy.
That’s how things were back then when dogma
had us all drinking from hoses and crawling
around our bedrooms on our hands and knees.