Ron Padgett



You Know What


Every once in a while
it occurs to me
that I am a vibration
as hard as a living creature
and that that creature is me
It occurs when I look out of my eyes
at it and it skulks away
into the dark area
where nothing can be seen

But you know what?
Take your philosophy
and put it in a paper bag
and carry it to a destination
and open it and see
if it looks back at you
and if it does
then you are occurring
because it is occurring too

I learned that in my childhood
and I did have a childhood it was better than most
but I got nervous
when my mother got nervous
and my father was always quietly nervous
We were a bundle of secret nerves sometimes
and at others we had quite a good time
especially my mother and me
We would sing duets in the car
in harmony
sometimes she'd take the alto sometimes I would
It was oddly satisfying
to come to a stop sign
and stop

Lithuania
wasn't something I had heard of
and Stalin was I thought a cartoon character
because he had only one name and a mustache
No one in America had a mustache
because Hitler had had one and he
wasn't funny he was shouting
and shaking his face around a tight nervous fit
Our family was a little nervous but not like that
He had a real problem we had a slight one

One day someone told me to relax
I didn't know what they meant
I thought we were just the way we were
We had names and identities and we knew
who each other was and what to say
So what is "relaxing"? It is turning
into someone else in your own body
which is what is happening every moment anyway
but so slowly we can't see it
In effect it isn't occurring
though it really is