(with a line from Louise Erdrich)

All the fables I recall end
with an illustrated moral: not so much truth, not
beauty nor patience, but more an
idea of choice. For instance, the youngest daughter
could choose to defy the father
who wants to give her to some beast of a man who has him
disturbingly in his thrall, and over
half the village as well. Or she could choose to
end the narrative early, refuse
the role of sacrifice. But the way these stories go,
fairest equals having the least
freedom to assert a difference in worldview.
Given three gates and the knowledge
that behind one lurks a lion waiting to tear you
heart from limb, and behind the second
a flaming sword: only one leads to the mythical
island where all that the heroine
has lost shall be restored. We should all be so lucky:
jinn in a hip pocket, an app
to scan terrain ahead in real time. After weeks of fire,
kangaroos praise the rain
that finally pours from the heavens. Elsewhere: pooled
lava gushes from the earth; sulfur
and ashes spew out of a volcano in a crater lake, one of
many in the ring of fire. Who'd
willingly choose disaster, stay behind while
neighbors flee to evacuation
shelters? By an act of God, we mean what's
out of the range of our control,
outside further capacity to choose. All my life I've tried to
play the parts that I've been given,
seen how to turn accidents into opportunities or salvage
quests gone awry. But you know?
The heart can only take so much
repetition without relief.
The heart wants to sometimes not have to choose, instead
surrender; to not pretend to know
all the answers, or where to find them;
to quietly admit there's only
so much it can do, despite the largeness of its desire,
unstinting hope, unlimited
ambition. I read about someone sitting under an apple tree,
vivid witness to fruit
taken past ripeness and falling toward rot in heaps,
wasting their sweetness
And yet somehow not one was wasted, not even those
exempt from the maw assigned
to eat them whole, take them alive.
You try to be like the fruit: you give
as much as you can in leaf, in flower,
zest and bud, before you too are taken.

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