Thursday, May 21, 2015

Three in the Absence of Tea

Ruth One

A good liar is a corset.
A good liar shrink-wraps the truth.
A good liar is Ruth Gordon:
"Never give up; never face facts."

Society has to cast you out,
Social behavior that believes
Your antisocial behavior
Is just that. But it's who you are.

Your impact on society
May even be beneficial,
But you don't lie to benefit
Yourself, for or against them all.

You lie because it comes to you,
Because lying comes out of you,
Like sweat, tears, defecation, feelings
Of anger and love and terror,

And as with all those things, you try
To supervise, to minimize
Any socially deviant
Variations, to keep control.

Getting caught in a lie is rough,
Humiliating as crying
When stoicism is called for,
Or as a bodily function

Your environment keeps private
Erupting from you in public,
Or as recalling lost temper
That makes you cringe to recollect.

But none of these embarrassments
Were carefully planned out by you,
And none would have embarrassed you,
Had it not been for the shaming.

Ruth Two
"Or else formed in English from reuwen 'to rue' on the model of true/truth"
Listen for the crepitatus
Of an ultracrepidate's steps.
The slight hesitation between
Lying and confession divides

Those who sorrow, those who regret.
The misery of another 
Matters more to the former, less
And less as confessions progress.

Me reweth. Not what I have done,
To the virgin, the sun, the tree,
But that such things are done to them.
I have overstepped my province;

I have concealed my provenance.
The sun goes down another time,
And then the sun comes up again.
The sun does nothing of the kind.

Everything human is sinful,
Goes one rendition of the song.
Everything birthing and dying
Is suffering, goes another.

Everything extemporizing 
Is false; everything false is true.
Rue on the model of true/truth.
Thou sayest. Wash my hands of you.

Ruth Three

Who knows what we are? My cousin,
Ruthie, was always a big girl,
Never much interested in boys.
She lived at home and went to church,

Quietly into her thirties,
Growing larger and more pious
As I remember. Then, somehow,
Doctors discovered a tumor

The size of an orange, growing 
Slowly at the base of her brain.
As her mother told the story,
The thing had been there forever,

Probably, pushing bit by bit
And altering her behavior.
To remove it they peeled her face
And opened her skull like a lid.

They teased apart tumor from brain.
Afterward, Ruth started dropping 
Weight and became frantic to date,
"A thirty-something teenager,

Her mother said, rolling her eyes.
That's the last I heard of Ruthie.
Her parents and mine are now dead.
She could be up to anything,

For all I know. I think of her
Brain expanding inside its room,
Her whole previous life a lie.
In truth, we're all light in the head.

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