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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – Oct 25

October 27, 2016

Red Wheelbarrow Poets
Poem of the Week 10/25/2016

Susanna Lee

Unspoiled

That doe, living in the woods behind my house, teaches her children:
how to lie perfectly still until she returns to nurse them;
how quick one must leap at the smell of wolf,
and how to trust one’s instinct to find the right direction to run away;
how to nudge aside the snow with the snout,
to nibble at the promise of moss beneath;
to believe that when the moss runs out,
the barren trees
will sustain life;
how to eat bark in the dead of winter,
and how long one must chew
before swallowing;
to trust in Nature,
to remain unspoiled.

I, too, am unspoiled, yet no wiser than the doe.

Her eldest,
this deer, lying on the far side of the road;
now mangled, twitching, splayed limbs akimbo;
gashes in his throat spewing, gushing red;
now stilling;
knew nothing of the factory wherein those headlights were manufactured.

I, too, am unspoiled, and no wiser than the doe.
I do not read what’s been written.
I say,
the view from atop the shoulders of giants
is directly above the spot where, once, they had decided it was the perfect place to firmly plant their feet.
They’ve now been rooted for thousands of years.

Those who’ve read all of what’s been written take this treasure trove seriously
and attempt to sequester it in an ark floating in gray matter.

However, that boat’s already leaking:
favorite recipes for chocolate chip cookies,
manuals for repairing Mac trucks,
guidebooks for traveling the Appalachian Trail,
poems sensing there are frays along the hems of bell-bottomed blue jeans;
all, stories we tell ourselves, over and over.

The better and better wars they, the learned, convince one another to create
are simply the bubbling over,
so much scum hovering atop the floating bits of ham in split pea soup.

I’m unlearned, fresh, unspoiled;
hoping to remain outside the box and discover why boxes are blinding.

I refuse to cede my innocent wholeness.
Like the doe, I retain the ideas I was born with,
those that sustained my forbears
when even the potatoes wouldn’t maintain their integrity.

In my poems, I do not make reference to ancient Greeks,
whose wisdom is said to be as yet unsurpassed.
I don’t read them.
I do not deny them their experiences. I take their word for it.
Or, rather, the word of those who’ve read them, studied them, recited by rote their verse,
then inevitably anguished over those ancient explorers’ deep voyages into meaning.

I do adore writers who cannot write an English line
without discovering the patterns of the shadows of Icarus’s wings
darkening their pages.
I enjoy imagining their privileged lives,
seeing how their curiosity led them to prowl through crumbling intellectual ruins.
I delight in finding evidence that dwelling on past writings has eviscerated their hearts.

I, on the other hand, will explore literary scholarship no further.
Unacquainted with history, science, mind-travelers, I’m untainted.
I cherish my own guile.

I will persevere.
I’ll never give up.
I will seek and discover the reason why
only the tears of dolphins and not elephants heal unicorns.

I will learn
how to move each of my own atoms independently of the others,
using nothing but the force of gluons.

Yes, and I will spend my free time in knitting,
out of the resounding echoes of the midnight howls of just seven coyotes,
enough joy and peace to blanket all the world.

This deer, lying on the far side of the road;
now mangled, twitching, splayed limbs akimbo;
gashes in her throat spewing, gushing red;
now stilling;
knew nothing of the factory wherein those headlights were manufactured.

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