Sunday, June 22, 2014

`He Laughed, Remembering'

A fierce midday rain last week left shoals of pine needles and dirt on the driveway and knocked small branches and hard green cones off the loblollies. The crape myrtle in the backyard was already heavy with pinkish-red blossoms and the rain snapped off a branch and left it hanging like an oversized bouquet. In the grass beside it was a possum, seriously dead judging by the flies that swarmed on his face. He was curled into a circle with the tip of his hairless tail on his head, and his upper lip was drawn back, exposing perfect little teeth. I lifted him by the tail, wrapped him in a plastic bag and dumped him in the trash bin. Whether his death had anything to do with the rain and the broken crape myrtle, I’ll never know. Here is Joshua Mehigan’s “The Bowl” (Accepting the Disaster, 2014): 

“For weeks, the heavy white ceramic bowl
he left out back lay tilted to one side.
But then one morning it had been put right.
Was it the possum, called down late at night
By hunger from some bony treetop? No.
The possum only ever tipped it over.
But when a small bird perched to drink from it,
He laughed, remembering all night long the rain
Dashing across the gutters and the roof.
The bowl was full. The rain had righted it.” 

We guess so much and know so little. We’re surrounded by mundane mysteries, not to mention grand ones. Inductive reasoning is useful but not infallible. That the subject of Mehigan’s poem laughed at his conclusion is promising. He knows he doesn’t know everything.

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