We all move on the fringes of eternity
and are sometimes granted vistas
through the fabric of illusion.
How much I have wanted
there to be a hard nut of self,
a perfect, immutable thing,
the golden pit in the blushed peach −
as in the children’s stories,
to bring us safely home,
or be the transforming Prince,
a constant metamorphosis
and yet at the quiet center,
We are not satisfied
with what was given.
More. More, said the poet,
against all reason
and knowledge. But make it real,
real with our longing.
Montaigne said he feared
his idle mind was out of control,
and set to discover how to tame it.
Could I do that? Would
I manage the mystery
of change any better
if I gave up my life
to discipline and order?
The little girl sails in the chicken coop
ripped from its moorings in the storm.
The ship goes on to Australia,
oblivious of whom it has lost,
and when the wind is bored
and wanders off to do mischief
in some other corner of the world,
and the sea quiets, and the moon returns,
she falls asleep until the morning.
What land will meet her?
Who will she become?
It is our dreams that bring us home,
nothing else will do.
No fine, clever argument
that leads to extinction
will stay with us long.
Truth is as flexible
as any child’s bones,
though they will snap.
At last, she hears the waves
gently on the deserted sand beach
and sees something green behind:
trees with mysterious fruits,
the distant mountains blue
in the morning haze.
She takes off her shoes
and dries herself in the mild sun.
Perhaps there is a key,
found in the sand
with no gull shrieking overhead.
And that key will lead her
into our own world. She
gets up then and walks to the trees.
She picks a peach,
eats it, and puts the golden pit
in her pocket for another time.
Everything I believe tells me
that none of this is true.
It is a fantasy, good once upon a time
for a lonely child in his room.
But that fantasy became part
of who I am, and its other world
was cut open like a melon,
or with a knife severing the air.
It leaks out from there to here,
a great wind from the empty stars
that will suck us into nothingness.
It will not do, and yet,
these stories are the best I have.
I nurse them, knowing their weakness,
knowing also that without them,
the world is intolerable.