The Line Between Pleasure and Pain

What pain would you elect to keep you
company in the bed of your desire? 
Climb a cliff face, run an ultramarathon,
fast for weeks: at the farthest edge 
of the present moment soaked
in a pain of your choosing, you might touch 
the hem of transcendence. It will fill you up 
with its dopamine, its message that the mind 
has won over the body and its cracked 
palms, its gangrened fingernails, its toes 
bent and bleeding from fouetté 
after fouetté on a lit-up stage.  But what
of the kind of pain for which there is 
no cure, that one day chooses  you for no 
discernible reason; that brings you understanding 
of the differences between chronic, intractable, 
unyielding? The line between pleasure and pain 
is sometimes blurred, sometimes clear 
as a blade in this world of beings 
which must devour each other to survive:
the cricket and the mealworm in the jaws 
of a frog; the frog in the mouth of a vole. 
The snake in the grass intent on working out 
the skin of its own brilliant transformation 
snatched up by a sharp-shinned raptor—
which comes from the same root as
rapture: meaning seize, abduct, ravish.  

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