In Consideration of My Best Efforts
There are many reasons I cannot sleep —
among them, the percussion of what I can do
versus what I cannot. I have been breaking pecans,
magnificently, all week. I have been enamored
with the most shallow of thoughts. I have remained
unaware of the housefly and the gnat, hungry
and approaching my left side. My instructor suggests
I try to breathe through my eyes only, knowing
their permeability. I begin to consider my eyes the best
nesting place for the insects I have captivated.
I waiver when I value the goodness of the world
to be less than my own failures. No one has spoken
of the hidden things to me! I break my own heart
and reparations, when I make them, will disappoint.
If my failings involve trapping moths under the eves
on my way to bed, rather than some machination
of my own contrivance, what I mean is I have done
disservice to the dignity of love.
Glassy eel of doubt, in the morning
I did too little, unaccustomed to exposure
as a means of preservation. When I took you
in my hands I tore you up and lost my hope.
Eel of doubt at midday, when you made
your way through wet grass I laughed
for you and you wrapped your ventricle vein
around me. I began to suspect
my island was a place to build a life
for us, without trains or commerce.
Only barges ever passed by us
bearing winter’s salt in mountains and in heaps.
Silver eel of evening, by the glaucous hour
I had reversed my stance. The water and the sky
took prominence and my footing
was on nothing in between. My patience
had grown bare. When I looked at the houses
across the bank, I saw them swelter in their goodness.
I know how I must look to you.
If you suggest I’ve made the bed wrong
I’ll believe you. I’ll go for a walk,
welcome the affection of the neighbor’s cat.
When I make the map of us, my long doubt,
I will lay you down feldgrau, without water,
use you as my scale. For someone who knows
what is right, I have a lot of trouble
acting decently without distance.
Image by SC Cunningham