Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Poet O: Stillness

"First came the watchers," he said, staring off into nothing.

I watched him, waiting for him to start writing, but he was lost in thought.

"They were different," he said.

"They had a stillness in their minds. They could sit and watch."

I had no idea what he was talking about. I looked out to see what he was looking at. At first it seemed odd, like a stillness had settled on the park. Nothing seemed to be moving.

"By watching, they learned. Then they became the teachers. 'Watch', they would say, 'and see what happens.'"

Pen still poised over the blank page in his notebook, the Poet O made no effort to make good on his promise to write me a poem. As he stared off into the distance, I stirred to leave the bench. But before I could rise, he turned back to face my and extended a dirty bony claw of a hand to hold me fast.

"They would make the wild tame, and the restless purposeful," he said.

"And the poem?" I asked. Perhaps if he wrote it I would be free.

He tilted his head and looked at me, studying me like a specimen. "Yes," he said, "You shall have your poem and I shall have my dollar. But first, you must see."

"I can see just fine."

"Ah, so think you, young lover have you but given up your come for this? Look at your feet. Tell me what you see."

Dutifully I looked at the pavement between my feet. I saw nothing. A few ants maybe. A cigarette butt. A leaf.

"Nothing."

"Nothing?"

"Nothing of import. A cigarette butt? A leaf? I see those things"

"Look again."

I looked again, hopeful that this effort might soon release me from this tedious lesson.

I saw the cigarette butt again, the leaf and the pavement. The ants were still there too. Come to think of it, they were still in the same places they'd been when I looked at them a moment ago.

I blinked and looked again, closer. They were ants alright, and they weren't moving.

I looked up at the Poet O, not sure if this was a trick of my eyes or his odd influence. He smiled and gestured broadly at the park around us.

I looked up and out, my gaze following his sweeping gesture. The same things I had only barely perceived before were still there. A woman, pushing a carriage. A man walking his dog. A couple walking arm in arm.

They were all still there.

None had moved. Nothing was moving.

The breeze held it's breath and my eyes watered as I tried to perceive motion that was no longer there.

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