At First You Don't Succeed
Because the pathetic aspire
to be sympathetic, need is often created
out of desire. It's as if you innocently planted the seed
of destruction in your vegetable garden
but forgot to water it: now you'll have to discontent yourself
with what you don't have. A long, fallow period follows
during which, as they say, one learns to do without
a specific dream while waiting for the raincheck,
but when you think about it you're forced to conclude
that all those clouds of consolations massing ahead
aren't necessarily (in fact probably aren't) storm clouds,
just some steam let off
by the lake. And what a disappointment that is.
Oh, I know, sometimes we almost feel
that if misunderstandings gradually accrue
at the rate of even one per day, it is only a matter of time
before a cloudburst will bring it all back
down to earth. No matter what one says it is bound
to be taken in the wrong way
But inadequacy works in both directions: we miss each other
because we miss each other. Nobody thinks through their fingertips anymore.
Perhaps it is a pity that we lack
a word to capture the unique aroma of coffee,
that our speech is wizened and anemic, remote
from taste, touch, and our other six senses. Conviction must thicken
its own texture,
grow gnarled and close-grained but in doing so remain
as transitory as a summer wind whispering through trees
with the sound of running water
Something like this
ought to find its way into a conversation someday: a break
or lull in the interaction that broaches and breeches
the subject in a single, spontaneous gesture
not yet hardened into habit. Which brings us
to the next point, namely that
we are pacing the circumference of an enormous circle,
and in this, our arena of action,
a perpetual "and yet" has been inscribed
so that a kind of running solution is effected:
we must take our cue neither from the good old things
nor from the bad new things, but, as it were,
from the bad old things and their more equivocal recent apparitions,
savoring the scents of the instants
the way couples in a park love each other so effortlessly. And yet,
surely to do this, even in gesture, is a blunder. It may turn out
that it bears a superficial resemblance to the world around
or inside of us, though superficial is no doubt the word-
it's amazing what some people will do in the name of intimacy.
Soon the storm blowing from heaven to which we've come
to give the name "progress" will disperse as suddenly as it
and since there seems to be no way of getting around the notion
that we all rely on a certain "authenticity effect,"
there is also no lack in trying
having failed, so that even now we are not quite failing
to deviate from what we never exactly already were,
or as someone I care about very much once said,
"Almost everybody has this theory that everybody else
has a fascinating social life."
Not everything we will need or desire to know
will be satisfied in the question and answer period
that follows the event: this much seems certain.
But just as pedestrians and cyclists can't ever really
peacefully coexist, there is a tension involved,
and to involve ourselves with the dispute makes us realize more
often than not we are the product of choices
we never made, so that the so-called "timeless"
are really no more than rhetorical questions
and in fact may be said to have acquired in poignancy
what they've lost in relevancy: desire is conserved,
but only at the cost of living, which is rising, but then
it's always the moment when you're about to say something
in the tone of "a postcard would have been nice"
that fresh possibilities unfold the way flowers do
in time-lapse photography,
and every time you step into the shower
another day goes by.
To think that it all began with the kid
who was caught with his hand in the cookie jar,
wrenching chaos out of order.