Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Stranger

One morning we wake to discover
We are what we wanted to be,

What we wanted first to be,
Before we had any idea

Of what it would be like to be
Ourselves and what we wanted,

To be what we wanted to be ourselves
And not what we envied in others.

All the intermediate wishes fall away.
We have failed to be someone else,

We have not second-guessed ourselves well,
We have suited up in uniforms and certifications,

Robes and elaborate prostheses,
Each fitting like a glove fits a bear's paw.

We are what we knew we wanted to be
Before we knew the satisfaction or the cost,

Before we felt constrained by our wishes
And their endless imperfections,

Before we or anyone really knew,
Other than that tall, gaunt, unknown man,

Already dying, who knocked on the door
One morning near the beginning of grown-up things

And asked in a theatrical voice
Husked by cigarettes and cancer

To see the poet.

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