Guilt is a bag someone has carried
up the hill from the pub. A brown bag
the size of a good catch, or
darkish, and bigger than that:
duffel over the shoulder.
Guilt is a pool with ladders
rising in every direction.
We climb and fall back and climb again.
Who can make the connection between
what snaps underfoot and what drenches us?
We are not taught how to do nothing.
We’re dragged from our busy infancy
and distracted for years till our
balloon of competence shreds.
There are secrets you know,
there is what happens when
what you haven’t imagined occurs.
Pain or its absence. Wind
bares the back of a sparrow’s head
underneath its buffer of down.
I believe in birds, the smallness of them,
their potential for flight, the way
they acknowledge this, even so
nodding and feeding in front of us.
"Over the Shoulder" by Marlene Cookshaw. Text as published in Double Somersaults (Brick Books, 1999).
Art credit: "Black-capped chickadees," image by unknown photographer.
Curator's note: Please take my two-minute survey before A Year of Being Here concludes on January 1. It will help me (and any potential publishers) decide upon an anthology of mindfulness poetry.