Archive for June, 2013

In Praise of Water Purification

June 13th, 2013

I hesitated to share this poem, because I’m unsure how good I think it is, as a poem, but I think it might at least be an interesting expression of some thoughts I’ve had.  It is one of the many fruits of the years I’ve spent pondering something my mother said one Thanksgiving: “It didn’t begin with me and it doesn’t end with me.”  In some sense this seemingly obvious observation has become central to my outlook.  One aspect of these reflections is captured in To Join the Lost, where the essence of hell is belief in the opposite proposition.  Goldfish Rising, the next volume in the trilogy, will carry the thought forward.  Geniuses tell us things that look simple but contain the world.  My mom was like that.  But this isn’t a poem about my mom.  It’s more about dads:

Yesterday, while scrubbing the sink to a

depthless, flawless white the chrome tap

hung across like a space vehicle (that’s

the kind of thing I think about while

scrubbing sinks) it struck me: my death,

if my son holds for me what I held

for my dad, will rip the poor kid a

hole in his guts, the same as my dad’s

ripped for me; and this is the cost the

love that I want now for us imposes.

Would it be better not to be beloved,

than to inflict that daily absence?

Then (this being the kind of thing

I think about while scrubbing sinks)

I saw, in the dimensioneless whiteness

above which swam the tap, the hole that

runs through my son’s life connected

to the hole that runs through mine,

and that ran through my father’s life,

and that pierced (I believe) the core of

his father’s before him, all the way

back to… when?  To some miserable

bastard, lost in heartlessness, whose son

greeted his last departure as merely

or less than just another sunset?  Could

indifference cap such a pipe-line?  Then

I thought of what might flow through such a

conduit, what umbilical nourishment

besides what filth and waste, and I knew,

it does not begin or end with me.