Imbedded in a paragraph I read,
the author made a character express
ideas about the limits females tread,
and role reversals in the game of chess.
So women even now and surely then
were victims of constraint and guarded range,
but on the chessboard queens protect the men
in bluff and duel, and no one finds it strange.
I’ll never own the right to that conceit,
for someone else presented it to me.
From book to brain the transfer is complete,
and I am tickled but a bit less free,
for now the thought is put before my eyes,
it’s one that I can never realize.
I felt the pressure first behind one eye
and now it’s grown to band my brow again.
I used to think I needed food, or try
more water, but I didn’t get it then.
I failed to see it was my body’s way
to warn that stress was mounting out of hand.
I’d gulp a useless pill. I’d blare dismay.
Until I took the time to understand.
Some days my brain is speedy to a fault.
I fire straight; I’m likely to ignore
the quiet shades of view. These headaches halt
that forward march – deflected, I explore
my state of current being and address
the angles as I organize my stress.
Asleep my fellows wander through a maze
without a clue of strategy or thread.
Somnambulating murky are their days
as blurred as night, as if they’re walking dead
who will not even note what path they took.
They dwell oblivious in financed ease
and only rise to full awareness shook
awake by earthquake-sized catastrophes.
Their torpor has no cause, no origin
along their span; existence is a knot
for them, they never thought to pry apart.
They’re no more weary than they’ve ever been.
Each fleeting glimpse at God someone forgot,
propelled to motion by a dreaming heart.
I always thought that as I added years
in life and lumps in limbs and folds in face,
so I would add to wisdom too, and fears
would fade and patience grow and I’d learn grace.
Then anger wouldn’t rule my heart (I thought),
and hurt would be reserved for awful woe.
But otherwise I’d outgrow overwrought,
exasperated, insecure, this low.
Now I’m a ways past middle age, no doubt,
approaching old, familiar with my past,
yet fretting that my mood’s a messy pout,
and wishing balanced attitude could last.
It’s obvious that I don’t have it yet –
Perhaps we’re all born wise and then forget.
He says he loves to travel for the new
impressions, foreign diets, ethnic arts.
His mind is stimulated by each view
he photographs. Declaiming as he darts
from screen to phone arranging flights and stays
at charming B&Bs, reserving nights,
he types up his ideas to pack the days
with jaunts to see all recommended sights.
He says he loves to travel for the thrill
of learning, but that isn’t really it.
He’s made his daily life into a drill
with no surprise allowed, and little wit,
but travel plans can frequently go wrong,
and getting through those snags makes him feel strong.
I read a Richie Rich the other night:
a story run in 1973.
An uncle in it traveled to the bright
occasion of the coming century,
which surely seemed approaching slowly then
(a score plus seven years still had to pass).
But now it’s eighteen since the new millen-
ium began, and I’ve reversed the glass.
How suddenly there sometimes falls on me
a bit of obvious, as when a word
correctly written yet appears to be
misspelled: the true looks false, the right absurd,
and I am shaken – wakened to a sight
I didn’t note before, in other light.
I can make a satisfying meal:
tasty mixture at a low expense.
I can cook a dinner of appeal,
but I can’t generate ingredients.
I can change an argue to agree
(switch a letter, make the second third).
Composition is a game for me,
and I invert but can’t invent a word.
For God the maker manufactures parts,
and having fabricated and displayed,
inserts the question into human hearts:
What will you, with the miracles I’ve made?
And only by compiling God’s design
are we allowed a slice of the divine.