Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Thoughts on Thoughts

In her late short-story collection,
On Thoughts, her unnamed protagonist
And narrator of the title piece

Isn’t contemplating suicide
So much as the thought of suicide,
Amongst all of her thoughts on dying,

On ends, and how to handle them well.
Around the middle of the story,
She does, in fact, attempt suicide,

But she survives, and most of the tale
Is delivered retrospectively,
As she muses on prior musings

And how they have come to feel distant,
Artifacts of someone else’s thought,
A kind of family photo album,

In which one sees the resemblances
Among the faces and to oneself,
But mediated by so much time—

The world they’re from, the world she’s in now.
In the interval, she’s grown attached
To the place she tried to kill herself,

Out in the woods near her house—at first
She feels like she’s checking on a wound
To see how it’s healing. Over years,

Her visits become more gestural,
More like someone absentmindedly
Fingering a half-forgotten scar.

She comes to find the spot comforting,
A place of familiar contentment,
A holy place, a sanctuary.

On one visit, she catches herself
Nodding at favorite trees and rocks
As if they were dear acquaintances.

She wonders why she feels at home here,
Where she’d tried to join the inhuman.
I just wanted to be them, she ends.

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