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Page 253

I don't mean to spook you, but look around:
Everything you can see or touch or imagine is alive.
If the doll's blank innocence (avidity?) evoked evil,
it's because I didn't want the doll to have the life
I'd given it. Life is a blank page: It turns against us
when we try to deny its infinite potential – which is,
of course, our own. Someone we love dies, and we can't
let go. (But, Poet, admit it, that flash of thought –
"Agony! Hey, I can use it in a poem!" just as reporters
are excited/repelled by the flash of thought, walking
past a school – what if it blew up right now? What a
story! And me across the street with my camera!"

Why do we tell ourselves such stories?)
We are unwilling to believe that it is we
who continue to endow with dearness the image
we cannot part with. When my first wife decided
to have me amputated from her life (perhaps
she still itches where I have not been for 37 years;
I'd tried to spare her by having been, for a long time,
a numbness), it took me more than a year
to become again a person, not a severed limb.

It was as if I'd learned a lesson: Grant life to anyone or anything
by admiration (as electric as Dr. Frankenstein's sparks),
and what I admire will fill up the sky, bathing the world
in brilliance. Then it will say, "I'm not your bed lamp,
to be flicked on and off at your convenience. I have
my own world to illuminate. Here's a book of matches,
a bit damp, but one or two may still ignite to help you
find your own way out of my life. Goodbye."

And I reeled through an ash and cinder world,
unwilling to know it is I, only I, who have withdrawn from it
the loving regard that seeds blossoms and flitters the air with hints
of gold. [You may wonder how a discarded limb could reel –
really! – or what amputation has to do with turning lights
on and off. Well may you wonder. Yes, Reader, it's a (tada!)
Mixed Metaphor! One must go. Cast your vote today!
Just phone 1-800-BE-A-POET or visit www.Limb_or_Lamp.ugh.
You decide, Reader! Which grrrrEAT metaphor MUST GO!]

Years later my second wife required the same operation: I was
removed (like a cousin – twice removed). Once again I was separated
from what seemed the source of love and life. Then one day I wrote:

Driving my car,
I flash on how I'd touch your cheek
before kissing it; now I touch
the steering wheel that way
and feel a surge of tenderness
for my car.

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