After thinking long and hard about life on Mars
I wonder: is it a bit like life
on the flood plain of the Truckee River?
Because who knows what that is really like?
Oh: so now you tell me it’s akin
to being condemned to attend the same
scientific swap-meet, day after day.
Well, on Mars, the piano is always slightly
out of tune—that’s the heat,
the wind, the swirling sand, thanks a bunch.
When a unicorn appeared on the flood plain
of the Truckee River there was not a hair out of place!
Its single horn was polished to a blinding sheen.
The following day? Another unicorn
(or perhaps an encore of the first.)
Day three. One more.
Day Four? Who knows.
Thank goodness I was groomed
and ready for all of this:
Contemplating life on Mars was
the only thing that could prepare me
for the sight of a unicorn.
And only seeing those unicorns
could have prepared me
for life on Mars.
We look to the ancient Greeks for today’s lesson
When you seize a grudge and clutch it to your chest
what happens next?
Recall the Spartan youth who stole a fox, then, stoic,
hid it underneath his cloak and suffered death
rather than disclose his misdemeanor? The desperate
creature gnawed and clawed the boy’s belly; imagine
the wounds. But could the lad have dropped the beast
and borne the consequence? Not according to his code.
And thus you carry harm, day in and day out, feeding
table-scraps to your destroyer.
Annie Stenzel's collection is The First Home Air After Absence (Big Table, 2017). Her poems have appeared in the U.S. and the U.K. in Ambit, Chestnut Review, Gargoyle, On The Seawall, Slipstream, Stirring, SWWIM, and The Lake, among others. She lives within sight of San Francisco. More at anniestenzel.com.
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