Sunday, July 11, 2010

Raised Jawbones

On the night of July 4th, Cletus went missing. He wasn't there to greet me at dawn, and he wasn't around to guard the hens at night. He was gone. We assumed he got spooked by all the fireworks, but I saw him late that night after much of the bang had already blown up all those bucks.

After not returning the first night, I began to walk the woods between our place and the interstate, crisscrossing my neighbor's place several times in several ways. Along the way, with Ozark in the lead, we came across a full bovine skeleton. My eye fell upon this bone, which I immediately recognized from a Billy Collins poem I'd read that morning.

This love for the petty things,
part natural from the slow eye of childhood,
part a literary affectation,

this attention to the morning flower
and later in the day to a fly
strolling along the rim of a wineglass -

are we just avoiding the one true destiny,
when we do that? averting our eyes from
Philip Larkin who waits for us in an undertaker's coat?

The leafless branches against the sky
will not save anyone from the infinity of death,
nor will the sugar bowl or the sugar spoon on the table.

So why bother with the checkerboard lighthouse?
Why waste time on the sparrow,
or the wildflowers along the roadside

when we should all be alone in our rooms
throwing ourselves against the wall of life
and the opposite wall of death,

the door locked behind us
as we hurl ourselves at the question of meaning,
and the enigma of our origins?

What good is the firefly,
the droplet running along the green leaf,
or even the bar of soap spinning around the bathtub

when ultimately we are meant to be
banging away on the mystery
as hard as we can and to hell with the neighbors?

banging way on nothingness itself,
some with their foreheads,
others with the maul of sense, the raised jawbone of

- "No Things," Balistics (2010)

I found Cletus a few days later through the vet's office. A very nice neighbor had found him on the morning of the 5th, scared and limping, and was taking very good care of him. Everyone, but especially Daisy, was happy to have him come home.

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