2015. március 13., péntek

Tony Hoagland: Self-Improvement

 Just before she flew off like a swan
 to her wealthy parents' summer home,
 Bruce's college girlfriend asked him
 to improve his expertise at oral sex,
 and offered him some technical advice:

 Use nothing but his tonguetip
 to flick the light switch in his room
 on and off a hundred times a day
 until he grew fluent at the nuances
 of force and latitude.

 Imagine him at practice every evening,
 more inspired than he ever was at algebra,
 beads of sweat sprouting on his brow,
 thinking, thirty-seven, thirty-eight,
 seeing, in the tunnel vision of his mind's eye,
 the quadratic equation of her climax
 yield to the logic
 of his simple math.

 Maybe he unscrewed
 the bulb from his apartment ceiling
 so that passersby would not believe
 a giant firefly was pulsing
 its electric abdomen in 13 B.

 Maybe, as he stood
 two inches from the wall,
 in darkness, fogging the old plaster
 with his breath, he visualized the future
 as a mansion standing on the shore
 that he was rowing to
 with his tongue's exhausted oar.

 Of course, the girlfriend dumped him:
 met someone, apres-ski, who,
 using nothing but his nose
 could identify the vintage of a Cabernet.

 Sometimes we are asked
 to get good at something we have
 no talent for,
 or we excel at something we will never
 have the opportunity to prove.

 Often we ask ourselves
 to make absolute sense
 out of what just happens,
 and in this way, what we are practicing

 is suffering,
 which everybody practices,
 but strangely few of us
 grow graceful in.

 The climaxes of suffering are complex,
 costly, beautiful, but secret.
 Bruce never played the light switch again.

 So the avenues we walk down,
 full of bodies wearing faces,
 are full of hidden talent:
 enough to make pianos moan,
 sidewalks split,
 streetlights deliriously flicker.

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