How We Know We Have Lived

Image: So Far by Mark A. Harrison

A way-back poem for the first of May, to mark the end of National Poetry Month, and the beginning of the next stage in this strange journey we’re on.

How can one seduce happiness
then make it love you enough
to stick around?

——

knots in the wood
flaws in the pattern
of the oriental carpet
a brown withered leaf
on an otherwise healthy plant
this is how we know
that things are real
a speck of dust on the TV screen
a missing scale
on an ornamental Koi
a scratch on a smooth surface
scuff marks and worn patches
on an old guitar
this is how we know
that things have lived
sometimes I understand
the revolutionary’s disdain
for perfect fingernails,
overly coiffed hair,
and hands without callouses
This is how we know that we have lived:
bruises, cuts, and scars
on all our parts
hearts included

T.H. (2008)

Walking Against Traffic

Fixed Window 3 by Mark A. Harrison

Passing effect: The effect of passing through things
– Leaves, hair, branches, hearts –
Equal and opposite reactions;
We pretend that contact is only temporary,
that everything always
only passes by, and through
– and yet –
even Jupiter’s tiny moons
affect the giant’s gravitational field.

Gravity: A force so weak, you can defeat it
with a fridge magnet, or a piece of tape;
– and yet –
Even the weakest forces can surprise you,
how they keep coming back;
The persistence of the everyday:
You can jump up, but you’ll always land.

All these fleeting melodramas,
the private riots, the secret rebellions,
a universe of stories unfolding inside
this infinite travelling picture show;
one might call it
a kind of madness.

…and yet…
Sometimes, for one suspended moment,
as we stand on the brink
that little voice in the back
of our mind, daring us
to take that one small step
out into the air, we remember
some future day,
the one we’ve waited for, all this time
when everything becomes clear
and we know at last
that flight is, finally,
possible.

T.H.