Answers

[Image Description: view of canyon formations at Grand Canyon Nation Park, with a trail edge and some scruffy shrubs in the foreground, and a background of sun streaming through clouds, with a quote at the top that reads “And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke]

Rilke told us to live the questions,
but these days they burn and sting
and run ever onward,
undeterred,
not unlike the sunscreen sweating into my eyes
or the ants traversing the back of my hand
and creases of my knees
as I kneel in the sun pulling weeds
from my sad excuse for a strawberry patch.

What the ground ivy didn’t choke,
the chipmunks and deer had for breakfast
one of the weeks (or months) this Spring
I was too busy to give it my attention.

Now, I should be doing other,
more productive things,
but I’m determined to salvage
the few, meager plants that remain.

Pulling up vines and dead leaves,
pondering the win-lose ways
society has been organized absent caring attention
and who is on the losing end
and if there is any way to salvage
the life we’re sharing on this earth.

Structures and power keep giving some people more
and they take it because they can
while so many and the planet suffer.

We choose political and ideological sides,
refusing to give an inch until there’s
no room for compromise,
no space for mediation,
no appetite for finding another way.

I don’t like the thought
of having to concede anything
that’s important to me
but I wring my hands at the
planetary and political and societal disasters
unfolding and at all we’re losing
and I long for anything
that might start us in a new direction.

And today I bake in the Summer heat,
blinking away SPF 30
and trying to brush ants away without crushing them
and thinking about the questions
I might be too stubborn
or too much of a coward to live,
and longing for all the answers I don’t yet know.

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