Thursday, July 22, 2010

In the Fist of a Knot



author’s note:

This poem reminds me of a travel program I saw on South Korea.  At the border station, the guardian soldiers of the North and the guardian soldiers of the South try to stare each other down, their hands clamped into fists.

They stand in this position of readiness for hours on end.

It seemed like such a waste of energy to me, at first.  Then I saw it as an incredible feat of endurance.


IN THE FIST OF A KNOT

Maybe Alexander did undo
the Gordian knot
with one stroke of his sword--

but those times are over:
I’ve dulled my blade
trying to cut
this stubborn knot, this knot
has taught me

I can not break
what has bound me up
through abrupt
destruction.

I’ve learned
to talk to my knot
as if to a fist: patiently,
respectfully--it knows
if I try to cajole.

So much power
imprisoned
in that knotted hand.
So much energy
released
as the knot
begins to open.

But I’ve yet to best
my turtle reflex:
when a shadow passes
I’m likely to relapse--
to try to shelter
in the darkness
of a hard fist.

However
through persistent, open-eyed effort
I'm slowly persuading that turtle
our life needs more--means more
than mere reptilian survival...


© 2010, Michael R. Patton
COMMON COURAGE

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