I have been getting a little nervous lately about poems that deal heavily in abstract ideas and are short on vivid images. While these types of poems can play out well on the page, I’m not sure that they grab an audience’s attention when read aloud. Nonetheless, I enjoyed writing this poem. It had me grappling with essential questions of human existence and, at the end of the process, I felt content.
Secrets I’d Like the Universe to Keep
Don’t tell me why I’m here,
just let me cut the stems of carnations
without feeling guilty.
Don’t tell me what other people think of me,
just let me get dirt under my fingernails
without feeling ashamed.
Don’t tell me who or how to love,
just let me graciously accept yellow roses
without feeling betrayed.
And when I suspect that happiness is not avoiding sorrow,
keep me running from gratuitous pain,
cursing joy that floats like oil on water.
You may be tempted to tell me I cannot meet expectations,
but be sure I sometimes do－in cursory, illusory moments,
in moments of mist on snow-covered mornings.
I won’t take them for granted.
I will want to know what might have been,
gather tinder to fuel my regrets.
Let that fodder be consumed by the light that dries the dew.
The consequences of my actions
may smoulder in some molten core, but
I do not need to know them: protect me
from volcanoes and tectonics.
Protect me from the knowledge of my death,
the whys and wherefores, and sometimes
the inevitability－especially when, like a whale,
I walk as a wolf on the land.
I’ll thank you when my carcass comes ashore－perhaps,
but don’t tell me if that’s true. Lie to me occasionally
and spin tall tales often.
Let the best tales of all be the ones I leave behind,
yarns spun and cut like the thread of life, binding
flowers and flames that I pray are not yellow.
But don’t tell me if they are.
© 2018 Lisa Mulrooney