In the other world my mother
calls from a hotel room
to say the toilet won't flush
and I tell her to phone downstairs
and say she wants another room.
As in real life, my mother balks
and side-steps around me
without clearly answering.
a big man stands behind
a flea market table
and I stand on the other side
inquiring about a set of small
silver plates and knives and forks --
only four dollars! Are they real
It must be the way
the morning sun on that big
white-curtained window brightens
the whole yellow room
that makes me wake so early,
trailing dark threads from the other world,
a sinking feeling about my mother's helplessness
and her obduracy, my own greed
for shiny things like the silverware here
at this house where I'm staying.
For a while there's ambivalence --
to sleep some more or wake?
Neither world is comfortable. There,
I am wound up and bound
in dark tatters of story that start and end
in strange places and leave me aching.
Here, it is all sun and brightness
with everything open to view,
making me feel I ought to know
what to do. But I wonder
as I slowly pull myself up and sit back
among the pillows: It is one more
precious day to be human and alive --
how, then, not to be helpless
in the crossfire of shooting thoughts,
the greedy clutching at anything
that shines? What, exactly, to do
with this unfathomable gift of life
in a body lit by consciousness?