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Right When I’m Feeling Good About the Modern Moment

ISSUE:  Spring 2012

And the fractured self, and the gross vagaries of public life,
something arresting happens, pops my good humor
square in its beaming, seraphic face,
and I’m forced to consider my neighbor’s lawnmower.
How it chews through his splotchy lawn like
institutional-grade cheese. No need to meditate
on the whining engine’s metaphoric allusiveness:
a mob of enraged bees spoiling for a fight.
A sewing machine you found
in a dumpster in an alley in a town
whose name matters to almost nobody.
You lugged it homeward,
its cord like a frayed tendon.
In secret you plugged it in.
The thing sang before it locked up inside
itself, really dead, truly junk.
No need to hover over all this.
No need to extract from it
the flashy ore of unexamined significance.
But I just did. There is no taking back this sort of thing,
no recall to issue when
what you find is not what you want.
When what you want
is five minutes alone
with the shadow of an ornamental cherry tree.
Or sex first thing in the morning,
just beyond the ragged boundaries of sleep.
Or a bowl of Something Good For You,
vegetal, fibrous, mush, though
each bite tastes like bland disbelief:
what you’re eating is your death,
your awareness that it is aware of you.


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