John Fenlon Hogan
I’m unsure if I’m ready to write this poem
in the same way the Virgin Mary probably had
some reservations about being the God-bearer,
but said yes despite any Oh shit! running through
her mind like the Oh shit! of Butch Cassidy
and Sundance everyone found scandalous back in 1969.
Sorry Paul Newman, but I’ve come to think of life
as euphemism for dying.
I’m unsure if I’m allowed to
speculate on the way God operates, how it seems
to me that he must have put two or three
in the works in case free will did its job. And maybe
it did—we just don’t know the story because we’re
not supposed to hear it.
What I’m getting is
I can imagine a woman, immaculate, lost here
in the 21st Century. She learns to sin by necessity,
and she believes everything has a purpose
because all her life she’s felt she has none.
There are women so beautiful you want more
than anything to look at them, and then
there is this woman. You want to watch her eat
persimmons and tell white lies to the darkness.
You want to read her thoughts in the drug store’s
checkout aisle (does she succumb to impulse items?),
and you want to sit next to her on airplanes
if only to observe her a little closer to the heavens.
This woman goes to sleep at night wishing
the world and all its meaning would go away
for a while just so she can be herself. She knows
what she is, or could have been, and wonders
if she’d have had the strength, and hates
that she won’t ever get the chance.
But she wakes each day, refreshed, ready to go
hammer and tongs at forging a purpose in a world
in which she is as superfluous as a second bullet.
I hate the gratuitous violence innate within
my thoughts, making her feel like a knocked-out
tooth longing for its socket; making me feel
like a shipwreck in a bottle; and I think,
maybe, that being without purpose in a world
that is altogether too purposeful would kill me.
I do not envy this woman, which is why
I love her, which is why I must not think of her again.