THE WHITMAN ISSUE
..........................In dark accidents,
..........................The mind's sufficient grace. --DS
It is after midnight.
My broken toe dangles in a pool of glacial runoff
while foot-long trout circle nearby,
their dorsal fins not quite covered
by the shallow water.
Siddhartha is sitting across from me smiling.
Cast in bronze, in turquoise shades, in Lotus,
he watches over the pond.
On a redwood landing just above me
Julian sits at a glass table.
Under a strobing candle she is reading Rumi.
We are in a clearing of old growth pines.
The air is thin.
I am thinking of sugar cookies,
the kind bloated with large crystals
and how I don't especially like them.
I am thinking of a doctor who told me night cravings for sweets
is usually a precursor to diabetes.
I hooked my toe on a blind corner
walking in my sleep
sometime last night
then fell down two flights of stairs,
all for a sugar cookie I don't like.
This I can explain away,
this I can wrap my feeble mind around.
But why I cook, clean, write in my sleep--
There have been studies.
Today I worked selling burgers
eight hours on my feet,
on that broken toe,
before limping my ailing van
up Mount Baldy
so I could sit here again by this pool
with water moving slowly,
holding down a bass line for every lick
the moon pulled out of her gig-bag,
with Julian peaceful, softly humming Fur Elise
miles away as a Dervish dances just for her--
with my bloody, broken toe
stinging and numb, tracing circles
in the raw nature of cold,
with a beautiful night of stars,
with Julian just before our breakup,
and how I knew we were through
because I know I am deficient,
thinking how Dr. Garcia weekly says, "trust."
Tonight I am writing, trying
desperately to figure out why.
And then, while watching
a river rock be a river rock,
and nesting, green moss collect starlight,
and a slight lift of air shimmering the moss
on that river rock, smooth and round,
I realize life can be lived in the focus or the fray,
but more importantly, and this idea is new to me,
anywhere in between.
I am going to stand
like a screen door
directly in the path of life,
maybe gaining a particle or two,
maybe becoming a little less taut,
but standing, upright, nonetheless.
And I swear I heard voices whisper
high in the tops of the tall, California pines.
And in this moment, I am made aware
that I know nothing at all.
So let the cycles of shadows and light
pour across me like a moss laden stump
on the bank of a river in spring,
but let me not be the moss,
let me be the movement,
let me be the flow and all the patterns of occurrence
of everything else rushing on, over, around, through.
Let me be the rhythm.
Ken Robidoux is a retired Southern California musician currently living in Morgantown, WV. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of the Mosaic Art and Literary Journal and has two daughters, Hannah and Lilly. He is an instructor at West Virginia University, and carries around a coffee mug that reads "Walt Whitman for God!"