Monday, November 22, 2010

Look out

I am being undermined by a poem.
I had a rigorous thought
and shoved the blame off
onto someone else’s shoulders.
Wallowing in self-righteousness,
I thought I’d try a poem;
but the poem took the thought
mulled it over and over
and re wrote it casting the blame
squarely back where it belonged
on my own shoulders.

Rule No 1: never trust a poem.


I inhabit a watery
like the man in the poem,
I am far too far out,
not waving, but drowning.

Drowning creates communication
problems; it’s difficult
for a bystander to know what to say.
She could venture a direct question:
“Why are you drowning?”
which might ellicit an equally
direct reply: “I’m out of my depth
and cannot swim.”
But the grammatical ambiguity
still remains: the present continuous,
“I am drowning” is never resolved into
the perfect tense “I have drowned”.
And an obscure answer might be better:
“With my crossbow, I shot the albatross”
or a metaphysical subtlety
“I am not drowning, life is drowning me”

Well, if you’re going to bring fate into it!
Fate never follows human timelines
No need to launch the lifeboat;
there’ll be no drowning today, tomorrow, not until the end of time.

Better just wave back and call out;
“have a happy day”.
If challenged later
to justify the crassness
of this remark
insist you’re not wanting to deprive me
of a moment or two’s happiness
before the final gulp.