Inclined to loving comfort as we age,
we rush from work to kitchen, bed or bath,
as if a foot massage could stifle rage,
as if another snack could blanket wrath.
We snooze-commute with earbuds or we drive
with NPR – we flinch beneath the barbs
of day’s misfortunes – till it’s after 5
and we’re released, except for counting carbs.
Regard our parents, living still and dim,
and let us learn a different way to spend
our time, for time cannot be saved in spite
of advertising claims. A quickened him;
a softened her: let’s mean that for an end,
and with finesse and grace prepare for night.
Becoming birds we trade our arms for wings,
transform our mouths to beaks, and let the air
replace our marrow. Disregarding things
like counting and manipulation, hair
is complicated into feathers, hued
and patterned: sex selection’s masquerade.
The embryos are boys until subdued
by estrogen and dipped in earthy shade.
Disdaining houses we begin to soar.
We levitate on thermals and we lean
to swoop into an arc and covet more,
so angling wide again, our motions clean,
our spirits loose, beside ourselves, alert,
we comprehend the subtleties of dirt.
The trouble with the mainstream is its tendency to lull,
seducing and inducing us to sleep.
The current is hypnotic and the atmosphere is dull,
the water neither turbulent nor deep.
And floating in the middle of that stream,
entranced and never bumping either bank,
we drowsing hunch and nod until we seem
to be agreeing with our faces blank.
Velocitized, we doven as we float.
We seldom disembark to walk in dream.
Our random twitches never rock the boat –
we languish unmolested in midstream
like millbound lumber: coursed by current’s law,
oblivious and prodded to the saw.
Without a prompt I marveled toward the west
and north this morning, as I exercised
the dog. I coursed with sudden love, caressed,
by breeze refreshed, by scenery surprised.
The gardens rose like sentries at my back;
before me rolled the contours of the bay.
What night resigned to tones of navy black
the light of morning switched to blue and gray.
For 15 minutes then I trod in grace,
a messenger at one end of a yard
of nylon webbing, flitting on the face
of Nature, eyelash-soft and insect-hard,
awakened just enough to glimpse the hand,
and for a quarter hour understand.
“You’ll pay for this” he commented today
when I diverted to the telephone.
“Beyond my phone bill?” prompted him to say
“Um hmm” and then I asked in quiet tone
“Is that a threat, or promise?” He replied
“Um hmm” again, and both of us were charmed.
Our voices smiled as our words goodbyed,
our ordinance by dialogue disarmed.
I’ll pay for this, I think, most willingly.
I’ll gamble weeks of inner peace on him.
Infatuated I appear to be
and into it too deep to call it whim.
I’ll pay for this, and find it nothing strange
to purchase pleasure for a little change.
We overflowed the hall – we’re such a crowd
we littered every niche and split the schools.
While other cohorts gossiped we made loud
eruptive innovations, suffered fools,
invented newer music, ate vaccines,
and danced until the sun sent us to bed.
Our parents put their faith into machines
but we were counter-cultural instead.
Now reeds are split and gut has come unstrung,
and all the instruments have gone untuned.
The night is old and we few sway among
the ghosts of dancers, limping, sore, marooned
together, rhythm-linked by happenstance:
coincidental partners at the dance.
I used to fear I’d waste myself: I’d dream
recurrently about an unused room.
Reminded nightly to it, I’d redeem
it from the day’s oblivion, resume
a planned inhabitance, investigate
its windowless perimeter, and then:
I’d wake to tasks already running late,
time-harried to forgetfulness again.
I used to think my solitude a waste
of personality. I thought I must
bestow myself on someone else. I chased
a wraith of Iris to a pot of rust,
and found beside that rainbow room for me
to like my own peculiarity.