by Justin Adams
Admittedly, most of what I know
and what I think I know
has come to me by books or through screens,
all of which have left a sense of should and ought
which constrains experience
to a set of desires and assumptions,
ways of seeing (and of not seeing)
and of interpreting
(and not interpreting) only useful
in reassuring myself that I do, in fact, know
by the tricks I have mastered.
And for a time it has seemed reasonable
that the recurring advent of seasons,
the cycles of nature, and observing
lives more dependent upon earthlier gods,
might serve in my own life as foreshadowing elements,
much like Romeo's speaking in persistently deathly imagery
or the etymology of the name Abel.
Too long have I pondered a sycamore tree
reaching over streams and bending
upward to fill its own gap in the canopy,
naively asking Why? How is it? What does it mean?
It means nothing. It is no sign, no prophesy
to brace me for any happiness or sorrow
yet to come. No more than a tree
and no less, it stands and lives
only as long as it happens to stand and live.
If in some way I divine sickness coming,
will I not, in its expectation, become sick
even when it does not come?
And will I not despair when forecasted peace
and peace upon peace never arrives
in its foreseen form? Certainly. And certainly,
joy and pain are coming, and are here now.
But of departures and arrivals, who can say?
Even the past is not fully known,
for it was neither seen nor experienced in its entirety.
Sight being limited to its narrowness of focus,
a good man was killed for his unexpectedness.
Knowing the coming good, other men gladly
and assuredly executed the present good,
citing the comfortable sufficiency of their own readings.
So, I will now go without such comfort,
letting go of other men's hopes.
And here still, weightier things remain despite past evils,
regardless of future joys. Here is present.