Monday, March 8, 2010

you can walk around with your sexy tank of oxygen

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far away I found myself in a magical land called North Carolina Governor's School. (Don't worry, this isn't going to be a GSW ode.) The first Friday there, sitting in the auditorium waiting for our que to start my first dance performance of the summer, my Area II teacher read a poem. Since that singular moment, it has been my favorite poem. I think the reasons why will be self-evident. Enjoy. ♥

I wish I could claim that I’m clumsy
because I’m intelligent,
riptide lightning surging through
my synapses as I correlate & codify
the infinite set of cross-references
the world is to itself,
so that my blood remains in
my swollen brain, leaving
the rest of my body faint,
my fingers chilled & numb,
unable to hold onto the
objects assigned them.

I wish I could claim that I’m clumsy
because I’m innocent,
like the fairytale stepdaughter
whose body continually cooked
rubies, sapphires, & Fabregé eggs,
so that with every word,
jewel showers spewed from her mouth,
no doubt occasionally tripping her,
as loose precious & semi-precious stones
rolling around, by, between, &
in front of one’s feet
tend to do.

I wish I could claim that I’m clumsy
because I’m holy,
like St. Catherine of Sienna
who begged Jesus to exchange
His heart for hers,
& though He did, in fact,
remove her heart,
He waited three days
before replacing it with His own,
during which time she no doubt
bumped into a chair or two as the
fist-sized vacancy pulsed
in her ribcage, throwing her
slightly off-balance.

But I’m neither brilliant, innocent, nor holy.
My clumsiness is not derivative,
which doesn’t mean, of course,
that is serves no purpose;
if that’s true that the main trick
of the highly successful
individual is to make life seem
easy, maybe I’m here to
demonstrate its difficulty-

difficult to get from one room
to another with the floor
pitching & plunging as it does;
difficult to pour a glass of milk
when the very nature of milk
is to spurt away, defying gravity;
difficult to move
from afternoon into evening
when my feet can’t help
entangling each other in the
selves of my former shadows,
bruising them cruelly
through not vindictively.

Maybe I’m here
to dispel the illusion
that life proceeds smoothly
as long as one pays attention;
for the clumsy person,
the closer, the more minute,
the most exacting the concentration,
the more extravagant the disaster,
no only in the physical realm,
but the mental realm as well-
everyone knows that thoughts
possess declivities, gaps, &
edges of their own,
not smooth but jagged,
splintered, serrated,
& not just painful thoughts, but
gratifying ones, too-
it isn’t any easier navigating
the inner life than it is the outer,

though despite all this
complaining, I must in
fairness admit there’s
a kind of pleasure in
any kind of stumbling;
it’s like hitting the gas
in a jeep with no shocks
when you go over
a speed bump-not just the
lift but the delay, not just the
delay but the suspension, not just the
suspension but the vertical drop
as the soul slams back
into the body or
the body slams back
into the soul, the brief,
swift thrill of Honey, I’m home,
like Dick Van Dyke or rather
Rob Petrie simultaneously
waving to Laura & tripping
over the footstool,

which is why I wouldn’t
trade my awkwardness for the gift
of flight belonging to the tabloid baby
born with a pair of wings, or for the
“trick-shot” accuracy demonstrated by
Amy Blackburn of Pigeon Forge, TN,
seven-year-old sharshooter reputed to be
the reincarnation of Annie Oakley
able to “pulverize an aspirin
into powder with the pill standing
sideways on edge.” The flying infant,
still heaven-intoxicated, had simply
forgotten to retract its wings
as previously directed,
& the little Annie Oakley avatar lives in a
rarified state of perpetual hyperclarity,
as drunk on the idea of accuracy
as any Pythagoras or Spinoza-
but to be a klutz, an oaf, a dolt,
forever inept, maladroit, bungling,
blundering, graceless, & lubberly
without becoming apologetic,
sarcastic, recriminatory, or morose-

in other words, to remain
in a state of metaphysically
pure clumsiness, a wholly self-
sustaining clumsiness
without cause or cure, credit or blame,
& to achieve all this while remaining
perfectly sober-
THAT is what our pre-pre-pre-
ancestors must have aspired to when they
crawled out of the oceans onto
the warm sand, &,
over long epochs with largely
unpronounceable names, sprouted
arms & legs, lifting their heads,
moving into a crouch,
a stoop, an alarmingly vertiginous
upright stance as
slowly, ever perhaps sadly,
but with unprecedented determination,
they worked their way up
toward the right to
trip & fall.

It's called "Clumsy," and it's by Claire Bateman.

xoxo & cheers,

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