Sunday, August 02, 2009

Crawling Toward Wisdom

author’s note:

“I am a part of all that I have met.”
             --  Alfred Lord Tennyson

“I learn by going where I have to go.”
               --  Theodore Roethke


In all our explorations...

maybe we’ll find
a planet of highly intelligent worms--

worms that seem to imbibe information
from the ground through their skin--sliding over
the earth and into the soil
would be a means of absorbing
not only facts, but also knowledge
--which, through the progressive digestion
             of deep rumination,
             would eventually produce wisdom--yes,
crawling could be a means of
cracking consciousness open.

They learn in this way because,
after all, what is their experience
of life if not soil--?--if not earth--?--
thus, the ground beneath their skin
is their education,
their means of learning
while on that distant loamy world.

And so, I guess, the worms
would never want to pause
for even a moment

--you think?--

but no, I suppose
some would feel overwhelmed
and choose to go slow.

Maybe they would even end
their education
by stalling--stopping.

No--wouldn’t that be impossible?:
no matter what the worm did,
it would have to learn something--

after all, a worm can never
completely stop--it must attend
to basic needs–and so
          even to eat, to procreate, to find shelter
would bring growth

--even if
a worm only passed
through this life
for one heartbeat
that worm would gain

wouldn’t you need a life
after life
in order not to waste
all you had acquired?

But even if dust just returns to dust
your dust would go back
to that same place
from whence your knowledge came--

so all future generations
could absorb some of what
you picked up, some of what
you digested
in your own attempt
at understanding.

Every motion you ever made
--even a breath breathed
   while you were
   standing still--
would add its modicum
of push
to the future momentum
of that world.

However, I believe
you’d have an even bigger impact...

Why should your advances
be confined to a single planet--?--
--are we not one?--
--do we not share the wealth?--
I believe
some humongous
universal bank of intelligence
exists somewhere
for your deposit
of worm knowledge.

If so,
does worm wisdom combine
in that bank with our own
human learning?--

If so,
then what is true
for worm
would also be true
for a poet.

Yes, that must be the reality;
because I have gained so much
from all my crawling,
from all my slogging,
from all my stalling,
from all my delving,
from all my... oh my--

from just being born.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton
earnest audio
new steps

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Blogger Goldenrod said...

Beautiful! I love this poem, Michael.

1:57 PM  

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