What Is Impossible

Original Text: 
The Ruined Cottage (Toronto: Wolsak and Wynn, 1993): 93.
1About the age of twenty, when the first hairfall
2signals that nature is finished with the organism
3and we just begin to conceive the use of women
4(having been all this time
5more enamored of the fountain than the cistern),
6we retire to nursing homes,
7whether they be kaleidoscopic gardens
10where the suicidal waves of angry natives
11give the illusion that we are advancing rapidly,
12or the crow's-nest of this windless office block
13where the cook is already boiling the last sail.
14And sitting on the bench like a snowfall of beard
16we consider the byproducts of life,
17such as (to name only the least offensive to the nose)
18the body itself when it has finally reached
19that eminence from which all is visible
20and from which it nonetheless feels the need to move on
21to a homestead of its dreams like an abandoned chicken coop
22on the sandy streamside under the tulip poplars,
23and to words, which result from an instinct
24for what is impossible:
25to soften the blow for others, including ourselves.

Notes

8] blunderbuss: short large-bore gun that fires many bullets at once imprecisely. hermeticism: theory of interpretation. Back to Line
9] Zambesi: river running 2,200 miles from Zambia to the Indian Ocean and giving rise to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Back to Line
15] expectorated: spat out. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2004
Special Copyright: 

<b>This poem cannot be published anywhere without the written consent of Albert Frank Moritz or the Wolsak and Wynn permissions department.</b>