Tuesday, September 29, 2015

David Ray: "Doing Without"

            ’s an interesting
custom, involving such in-
            visible items as the food
that’s not on the table, the clothes
            that are not on the back
the radio whose only music
            is silence. Doing without
is a great protector of reputations
            since all places one cannot go
are fabulous, and only the rare and
            enlightened plowman in his field
or on his mountain does not overrate
            what he does not or cannot have.
Saluting through their windows
            of cathedral glass those restaurants
we must not enter (unless like
            burglars we become subject to
arrest) we greet with our twinkling
            eyes the faces of others who do
without, the lady with the
            fishing pole and the man who looks
amused to have discovered on a walk
            another piece of firewood.

"Doing Without" by David Ray. Text as published in Gathering Firewood: New Poems and Selected (Wesleyan Press, 1974). © David Ray. Reprinted by permission of the poet.

Curator's note: This poem is half of a diptych. Its companion is entitled "Having Too Much," which you can read here.

Art credit: "Old Woman Fishing Alone," photograph by Steve Duffey.

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