I ASK MYSELF
by Llyn Clague
Who are you to speak of the arrogance of men and women?
You know yourself that the path through the woods,
down to the lake that glistens in the morning sun,
is unmistakable, though in places steep, in others pitted with rocks, angular
which, as you grow older and more reflective,
are more, not less, difficult to traverse without tripping.
Remember when you were 12! You ran lightly,
jumping from stone to stone and leaping over others
like a pebble skipping over water.
Now I no longer skip
for risk of breaking a leg, or worse.
Though the path is—I repeat—clearly marked,
I continually wander off, into a cool grove of pines
a glade where the sun gleams on the forest floor
or to a cluster of lady’s slippers, rare and endangered. I wander
I can only say deliberately, for surely—
although each diversion is impulsive, like avoiding eye contact, or slyly
steering the conversation away from my role in a quarrel—
I cannot honestly say any of them is accidental, or even subconscious.
No, I like to wander off, looking for mushrooms, a hundred-year-old iron spike,
even as, in this poem, I avoid naming escape, or evasiveness,
reaching instead for metaphors that praise an affirming curiosity.
I know the worm in the gut that feeds on my being wrong.
I know the sweetness, sharp as a Stone Age arrowhead,
of blaming others. And I know the promise
to come back to the path—
further down, past the scree of stones,
where it is level and straight
and I can walk comfortably,
like a stream running smoothly
beyond the rocks it lashes at in white fury,
or is it in fear of not getting its way?
Copyright © 2011 by Llyn Clague.