So, This is What Living Means
by Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
What a relief, to finally know
what living means:
an extra skate key
stashed under a garbage can,
on the right side of the stoop.
Years ago, I tried to ponder all
the great questions. I read Nietzsche
and Dostoyevsky and fell in love
with a bulge-eyed Frenchman.
I tried to do what was expected
of a working class kid in a state college:
think, read, talk the big questions;
prove your mother right.
But I was a fake. Friends read N and D too,
and understood them. They were impressed
by my love for the bulge-eyed Frenchman,
my facile quotes delivered with meaningful
pauses. They didn't know I yawned through N
and read D because he told a good story.
Marriage and a real job distracted, just in time.
I had things to do and need not ponder
what living means. I stopped reading N
and fell out of love. But kept D by my bedside.
Later on, with divorce behind me and poetry on my mind,
I watched my cat play with a terrified lizard;
I looked at rain; I choked on hot winds scorching
my tomato plants and began to ponder again,
but nothing happened.
I read N again and the bulge-eyed Frenchman, but I
didn't fall in love.
I understood better this time, but I was still
shaky on details and settled down with D
to forget myself.
"Why" is a good word, a solid word that can
occupy a lifetime. But an answer to why isn't meaning.
"Is" is a good word too. Something of substance.
Like an extra skate key stashed under a garbage can,
on the right side of the stoop, just in case,
just in time.
~ originally published on AmherstWriters.org