I went to the bookstore for a self-help book,
And all I found was poetry. Mary Oliver —
Have you heard of her? She’s not bad,
Though I don’t know what’s good anymore;
I’ve had too much education.

I’ve been considering Barth’s Dunyaziad
How Scheherazade writes herself
A story in which she can win,
How “the key to the treasure
Is the treasure.” There is no trick
To living, I think he meant to say —
But how should I know?
Perhaps Barth is indecipherable, like life
Or poetry.

I have been looking at my heroes,
At myself, at stories. Hard to romanticize
An unromantic life. The precedent
Is already set. My life cannot unfurl
Like a bulb or a white skirt —
It is not that kind of story.
I will not proceed quietly
To bed and to rise,
Will not count the stones of ancient rivers.
Nor will I burst like the setting sun
Or a horse’s quick, wet heart.

I went to the bookstore for a self-help book,
And walked home instead. Now I sit
Across the country,
Outside my house, half-swallowed by the deep,
Royal blue of late twilight,
Orion’s belt dimmed by street lamps.
Glass on the street corner. Soft voices, warm lights,
In nearby windows. A child laughs,
A plate rattles. Something smells good
In the house next door.


featured photo credit: PeterThoeny Late dinner with a view via photopin (license)34274147386_a9a7dee71d.jpg