"I find myself unconcerned about which bird gets the worm."
IN DEFENSE OF LETHARGY
I do not understand all these expectations—
neither those that I have of myself
nor those that have been placed upon me.
I am not beast enough for this burden.
I do not see myself as a journeyman;
rather, at best, I’m a reluctant trainee.
Instead of courage, I can boast only of having
the cowardice of my convictions. I did not arrive
ready to work. I came here to take my Sabbath rest.
I find myself unconcerned about which bird gets the worm.
This shirt has a stain; this suit is a mess.
As you can tell, I have not dressed to impress.
I bring nothing to the table other than my lassitude.
Wherever I go, I take a certain pride in my sloth,
whether I’m in Dublin, or Tennessee, or Persia.
Unless acted upon by some foreign (and unwelcome
force) an object at rest will remain at rest. This
is my guiding principle: the law of inertia.
INTRICACIES OF RECOLLECTION
As with each loss we suffer, each
new love functions as a palimpsest:
the way a chalkboard resists complete erasure.
We write the new text over the old,
which may appear or fade out
from time to time.
Like wet cement we are . . . impressionable.
This might simply operate as a function
of memory—not merely a recollection of
the narrative, but emotional
memory, you know,
the sentimental kind.
For example, when you reminded
me that I had been practicing
poetry without a license,
I laughed because it was funny,
but it also raised the echo of
other, earlier disqualifications.
The mind, without much thinking or fanfare,
writes upon a time-worn script: not so much out of a sense
of economy, but in the way that old dogs struggle
with new tricks. And when our memory encounters
holes or gaps in the story, like an actor who’s
forgotten his lines, we ad-lib the narration.
We invent the past when it’s not
available, as though we found ourselves
in the witness protection program.
Thus, like a jilted lover, our remembrances
are a bit unreliable. They have their own agenda,
and we can never be certain of their game plan.
© James R. Dennis, used by permission
James R. Dennis is a poet, a novelist, and a Dominican friar. Along with two friends, he is co-author of the Miles Arceneaux mystery series; he also writes and teaches on spiritual matters. James was born in West Texas and now lives
in San Antonio with two ill-behaved dogs.