Lightly, Politely, Indirectly

Sweeper's Hat Sha Tin_NOV 2017

In the long run it seemed taller ⸺
failure ⸺
as if it were only “fortune” spelt backwards in a new word
too high for high school. Certainly,
it made dreams of all that was opposite richer;
without it, aspiration would have seemed uneventfully flatter.
And then, for the time being,
there was everything you could wish for in air,
in water,
in trees that still storeyed straight up out of the yard
into their skyward beams.
And the sun rose and settled, in one sense
out of this world,
yet infinitely at the same time
in it, with its warmth, its light,
its infallible solar-solidarity. And the moon too
more changeable than any sun could be
and so much closer to disaster in its proximity to darkness
continued to spin
with ritual total surrender to the dictates of gloom
through each slow stage of a broad blemished radiance.
The universe in its essential cycles
went on deliberately overriding ⸺
and undermining ⸺ Grand Human Design,
till finally for precisely that reason I decided to take my own life
back from AMBITION,
one day
dividing attention instead with everything transient, flawed,
and trustworthy only in the immediate sense,
in that unique scheme of a blink-of-the-eye instant
and, in the process, learning ⸺
if you could even call it “learning” ⸺
over and over ⸺ what so-called “damage” had to tell me⸺ the hard way.


Photograph: 香港沙田城門河 Shing Mun River, Sha Tin, Hong Kong (2017)

4 thoughts on “Lightly, Politely, Indirectly

  1. I love this poem. I have read it three times already and each time find something new to meditate on. I love of course the O’Henry -ish ending of taking your life back from ambition, but also the imagery of sun and moon and the “aspiration would have seemed uneventfully flatter”. Beautiful and profound.


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