Self-portrait as Sisyphus

Trudging back toward the depths,
in that brief space of awareness,

I am assailed by charred smells
of salted meat and roasted corn;

and again, I feel the tug of my
hungers: I want to make room

for something other than fate.
I’ve gotten so good at hoisting

the burdens— my shoulders are worn
to the blade and my physical therapist

shakes his head, pronouncing me hopeless.
Natura naturata, wrote Spinoza: Things

happen only because of Nature and its laws.
In the valley, someone is setting off

fireworks. Dogs chained to fences startle,
send up the jagged froth of their voices.

They know it isn’t nature that’s tethered
them from their own nature; perhaps

they want to crest the hill I climb so often.
And like me, keep going. To never come back.

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