N I N E
A bare sixty watt bulb
dangled next to Professor Martel
sitting cross-legged at the head of his bed,
notebook in his lap.
The bulb, left, cast shadows, right.
His pencil moved toward its shadow,
leaving behind letters, words,
sentences, paragraphs, pages,
as if the pencil-point twisted shadow,
curled it and set it
firmly to the paper, but shaped
not by physical outline,
rather shadow as shaped
by Professor Martel’s thoughts. Light used
by its absence. An opposite
approach to mysticism.
Fittingly, too, because Professor Martel
wrote about “soul”
as a repeated thing different
from the repeated thing “light.”
So the drama teacher told me
the story of the actress.
And I read a very old quote,
from Propertius, saying:
“Should strength fail, the effort
deserves praise. In great enterprises
the attempt is enough.”
I thought a lot about that old quote.
An attempt suffices?
Does a thought suffice? I considered
abstractions and I itemized
concretes. I generalized.
I summarized. I derived
principles. I separated
incidentals from integrals.
I determined defining
definitions. Compiled lore.
And beyond those things, I struggled,
interrogating my heart,
struggled to face-up
to the true and false rather than lie,
intellectualize and settle
for the seemingly right.
I knew, too, “true” and “false”
trip more people than banana peels.
But art that can open and touch
an honest heart brings measure
to these repeating words
and the repeating thoughts supporting
the words, expressed by the words.
And, simply, I trusted my heart.
And do trust it, still. These words
expressed some of my working thoughts.
The repeated and repeating thoughts.
A garden of blossoms
in bloom. Blooming now.
But rooted in something, somehow, somewhere.
These roots and that soil
made up everything except one last thing.