Later lessons

"...I just go forward like water, flowing 
around obstacles and second thoughts..."
~ Tony Hoagland, "Distant Regard"

Isn't it true though, how everything in life
      is a terrible cliché, how we only think

everything that happens to us is original,
      that no one has ever felt like us

the same pangs of joy or sorrow or sex,
      the calculus of pain, erosions of jealousy.

And you too must learn to live inside  
      that room called solitude, where furniture  

is sparse and there's no TV, no distractions;  
      where you'll work with the mind's reluctance

to sit still in one place until it stops
      fighting the urge to rummage through drawers,

flip switches, wipe all surfaces with disinfectant.
      Then one day it just happens: that knot 

in the center of your gut doesn't feel so tight
      anymore; you look at the silver growth

scattering through your wife's hair, the fine
      stippling of age spots across your cheeks,

the dwindling figures in your pocketbook. You hold
      them up against the impending future or

the coming end of the world. Perhaps it doesn't    
      seem so terrible either way: to wind the key 

around to the beginning again, or to watch as the fire,
      like a good pet, eats the scraps you feed it.  


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