Thursday, September 06, 2007

As If

If there is "much virtue in an if," there is even more in an "as if."

Scarcity creates anxious appreciation. When the toothpaste is almost out, we press, roll, squeeze with extra force, bending back the nozzle end the way we pull back the chin on a CPR mannequin. When the shampoo is almost out we add water, shake, and feel gratified by the dilute lather in our hair. The cotton swab container is empty and tossed, but we look about under the electric shaver, combs and such hoping to find one swab, and if there's only a single attracted hair on the tip, we pull it off and consider ourselves lucky. Such are all vanity items. More seriously, be on an unfamiliar highway in January at six degrees with less than an eighth of a tank and our bodies feel sympathetically empty: the fuel goes out of our arms and torsos, until only the driver's right foot, light on the pedal, seems to have substance.

Be replenished and relief changes to indifference. Toothpaste squirts are long, shampoo blobs large, there's at least one swab for each ear, and no thoughts for fuel.

It seems so with words. The abundance of a keyboard, prefab phrases, and the limitless lexicon give the illusion of "inexhaustible voice." Yet poets massage, rinse out, search out, and press just lightly so that a line of almost empty words produces abundantly.

Appreciation is counting the infinite on one hand, holding the timeless as ephemeral, and being grateful not that things are as we wish them, but that they are.


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