Monday, June 25, 2012

For Yvonne Gilmore, With Mixed Results

The reason real life is boring
Has nothing to do with what
Doesn't happen but what does,
The way it does, all mixed up,
Good and bad, cheerful and sad.
The soberest existence
Executes a drunkard's walk

That sprawls in all directions
And shuffles muddied patterns.
Have you seen the cosmic map
Of background radiation
Foolhardy astronomers
Dubbed the "face of God"? A mess
Of blotches, spots, and splotches.

We like our stories in arcs
And wheels, starting and stopping
At points of loss or success.
We don't like a random mess,
We recoil from randomness,
And that is why we suffer.
We don't want the world we're in,

Perhaps because, per Darwin,
Beasts who need the stars pretty,
Babies stupendous, and life
Full of meaning outcompete
Kinfolk who demand nothing
Beyond what they find. Perhaps,
But why hunger for meaning?

Whyever it is, we do,
And that leaves each with a choice
To pace our cages growling
Or try to pick out the locks,
And it seems there are only
Two directions we can spin:
Surrender or denial.

Accept what is as it is
Or insist that it isn't,
That a plan, invisible
At any moment governs
All--two plans in fact, cosmic
And personal, everything
In one, me in the other.

Both choices are perilous,
Narrow paths that tend to slide
Over and into others,
And we can't stick to a plan
Anymore than the world can.
Those who choose calm surrender
See meaning glowing in it,

And those who choose God's rule
Find themselves surrendering,
And so we're back to random
Daily moments of wisdom,
Moments of doubt and despair,
Alternating chummily
As fortunes in a market.

Just yesterday, for instance,
After a reasonably
Harrowing weekend journey
Through the pleasures of limbo
In a dullard's Idaho,
I drove past the most ornate
Roadside cross memorial

I have ever come across,
An arc of sumptuous purple
Flowers over a garlanded
White cross in a flower bed
With the name, "Yvonne Gilmore"
Painted across the arm bars
In thick, black calligraphy.

Yvonne, this poem is for those
Who lavished their bereavement
At your last intersection
Between real and imagined,
And for their story of you
And your life's meaning, and for
All who pass by, and for you.

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