Thursday, March 20, 2008

Apology for Want

I am an exceptionally negative person: misanthropic, the quintessential pessimist, I always expect the world to prove right my view that shit happens for no good reason and with no cure. I don't think this view of the world is unrealistic; actually, I think karmic, teleological views of the world are the epitome of magical thinking, which I detest.

However, there are days when the world surprises me with how sweet life is. Yesterday, I went to the library and while browsing the shelves stumbled on a thin book of poetry by someone I had never heard of. Here's one:

Apology for Want

by Mary Jo Bang

I've worried far too much about the eye
of the other: the shopkeeper and his lackey clerks
who think I steal.
I know I stand far too long, gazing

with wistful face at the muted tints of objects
on shelves. How smart we are all getting.
Soon we will understand everything:
why our first breath, when our last.

Why a rat, even though shocked
every time it eats, never stops knowing hunger.
How hollow-boned birds and gilled fish
estimate the size of a bounty, remember

where they stored food. There are few ways
to free the body from desire, all end in anarchy.
Tomorrow, I'll go back to the shop- the story
where it left off-

focus on those items that have bits of lavender
hidden within: gimmaled broccoli tips,
overwrought asparagus. Survival lies in resistance,
in the undersides of the leafed and delicate.

Among animals, we're the aberration:
want appropriates us,
sends us out dressed in ragged tulle, but won't tell
where it last buried the acorn or bone.

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