Stretching

One by one, I knew all the words. Until nothing
was unrecognizable. I turned the objects in my hand,
put them down on flea market tables, knowing
exactly what each thing was and what it did.
I rummaged and dug to find the mysterious part,
to handle the subtle machinery that exists
outside my profession, experience and education.
The molded Italian plastics smoothing in hand,
the antique personal effects of past souls
who lived unfathomable lives, these
had their place and knowable purpose.
Overly designed forks and spoons, so many books in
other languages, pointless details of objets d’art, all
within my realm of understanding. Mystery had dwindled
to charm—just exotic curves of turtle bones in my mouth,
bulbous and strange, but unmistakable.

But now to sit and weep with wonder at the arrangement
of my own objects resting on an uneven floor, to witness
an ever-settling house, to wake up again and feel powerless and
ignorant at last, to sense something beyond the unlikeliness
of the arrangement, I stir and feel my stomach grind.
Everything is familiar. Everything apparent. But marked
with the finality of impossible questions. I stretch my life
over this armature of possessions, falling back clumsily
into the rocking chair. I move forward for some
new things, roll backward to adjust to others.
Is this a freedom earned only by the humble? Leaning
into the room, pausing. Turning once to look behind me.
Seeing the room—only the room. Not one word.


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