The Metaphor Keeps Adding to Itself
By what route did each of us arrive here?
It’s hard to say which silences will one day
come to speak or whether we’ll have ears
to hear, as the Bible verse says. Cyclists
are gearing up for a race along the river’s
course—one from South Africa, another
from Memphis. One says five hours; another
says six; but when the race is a metaphor,
the time could be endless. In the dawnlight,
I look through the blinds and imagine
each thin space between—distinctly itself,
isolated—posits, as a premise, one more
way to see what isn’t there layered over
what is. Is that a siren cast over the city’s
waking or merely one person’s mania set
loose again? Is it a comfort that all over
the earth a few stranded souls are writing
elegies and that this action parts the veil
only enough for one at a time to enter
and possibly one or two others to come
along behind but none at the same time?
Is comfort even a comfort, when it visits
one person but overlooks others? One truth
must welcome an endlessness of variables
before falling into place. Each moment adds
others. And these moments add others, on
and on, some furrows, others pollen, still
others all the drops of rain falling on an
inland pond and the words crossed out then
written again, the redbud leaves overlooked
on the drive into town, the prayers whispered
over headstones, though no one else remains
of a family. The metaphor keeps adding to its
subtractions, keeps welcoming constellations
and arias, keeps birthing and rebirthing itself
out of itself into itself beyond what it knows
of itself. It’s hard to say what’s believable
when a flame starts up in another chimney,
hard not to think of Auschwitz and falling ash,
hard not to wonder how to keep wondering
what time, sweet time, will allow. Maybe
each word is a secret we’re not supposed
to know. Maybe each enacts unfathomable
atrocities. We look through these blindnesses.
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