Realize, cleaning out the fridge, there are the makings
for soup. And that the tiny acorns neglected for weeks on the front lawn,
when gathered, make for a fine pile inside a glass vase.
Notice that a blank page is easier to fill when it’s down
to an index card. And how the subway train, taken one face at a time,
reveals worlds you never thought you’d travel to. Last night, your seat neighbor
on the bus to the big city asked you for help, and you traveled back together
to when you were 12 and in front of those buildings for the first time, too,
looking up and feeling lost and hopeful. You could have looked out the window
and cursed the traffic. You could have barreled through the station,
arming yourself with headphones and narrow eyes to cancel out
the catalogue of intrusions. The desk is perpetually calling, too, that book
you’d promised yourself you’d write by the time you turned 30 or 41
or 58. And you chose the kitchen over packing for tomorrow’s trip, and now
a pot is on to simmer instead and the suitcase is nowhere near completion.
But this is how you do it,
not because the to-do list told you so, or because you felt the stiff wind
of a deadline, or because religion was breathing down your neck.
You were trying to save the world, that’s all,
and this is the small circle of molecules
you felt capable of holding, the fragment of skyline that fit
in your rearview mirror, the square inches of your hand
reaching palm out into the chaos to say hello. This
is how you do it, with such tender imperfection and the knowledge
that something could sideswipe your intentions at any moment.
You do it anyway, tell the woman from Springfield, Missouri what to expect
when the bus squeals into Port Authority, rest your gaze on the
scuffed-up shoes of the policeman keeping the peace at the Bedford St. stop,
write the maybe lines of a poem on the small rectangle
you tuck into your pocket that will yield its gifts when you least expect them.
You do it anyway, resurrect a vase that delivered birthday flowers
months ago and fill it, now, with what even the hungriest squirrels refused,
and turn your scattershot kitchen into a gallery for modern art.
This is how you do it, making rough slices of a bag of carrots and sliding them
into a pot layered with oil and browning onions and fibrous curls of ginger.
And the air changes, just like that.
And the world falls down to its knees,
taking you with it.