In every family there’s the good one,
the slow one; the hungry one, the impatient
one: I’m told I am that one. I make Tuesday’s
lunches and Wednesday’s dinner on Sunday
because I know how fast Monday will go.
I get up at 6:00, shower and dress by 6:15,
unlock the gate and load the dishes before
you’re done with coffee; am out the door
by 6:45. I accelerate at yellow.
And so for the longest time I couldn’t
figure out why the story of Odysseus
should resonate so much: that uber slow,
twenty-year jaunt, one excruciating
detour after another prolonging arrival
or return. It was clear I couldn’t quite
identify with the one waiting at home: the one
making her endless macrame of strings all day
only to pluck them apart at night.
Rather, I felt I understood what it meant
to exert heroic effort, take nothing
for granted, work harder than everyone
because I was from somewhere else; gather all
the tokens, move from one level to the next
and score. If you’re like me you get
what it’s like to stopper the ears against
the easy seduction along the way; make it through
a narrowing chasm in the nick of time. Did the hero
ever ask When does it stop? Did he ever want to buy
a Honda Odyssey minivan just so he could at least
drive from one new trial to the next with a modicum
of style? Or at least hire a driver; get a map
highlighting independent bookstores and coffee
shops and sushi restaurants along the way.
Sample them all, check off items on the bucket
list before the sun’s long shadow darkens the earth
and he’s finally, like the rest of us, run out of time.
In response to VIa Negativa: Postmortem.