Breathing is just a rhythm. Tell yourself this so that the breathing
becomes a song. Sing this song all day while you shop in the hardware
store for things you do not need. Sing it again while you cook supper
for yourself. Cook supper for yourself, even if you don’t want to.
Go for a walk, even if you don’t want to. Put your shoes on
and get the leash and even bring the dog. She will be so pleased
you might start to forget. Also, breathe. It is a rhythm. Walk
around the block, and even farther, if you have a mind to.
You might. Your feet will take you. They can. If you listen,
they are a rhythm also. Like drums. Hand drums. Swing your hands
while you walk. Tell yourself they are kind of like wings,
that the bird’s wing has a hand inside it. It does.
Come home and make tea. Every time you dip the teabag,
hold your breath like you are underwater. Hold. Breathe.
Hold. Breathe. Like that, like you are swimming across
Lake Pleiades, under water like a fish, above water like a bird
until you are stitching lake and sky. You are a needle just then,
darning holes in things, a weave of stitches across and down, like a graph.
You need to be a graph. A grid. Numbers are perfect. You can draw
two lines on a graph that can never touch. This is what you are building.
I wish I were a poet. I’ve never confessed that to anyone, and I’m confessing it to you, because you’ve given me reason to feel that I can trust you. I’ve spent my life observing the universe, mostly in my mind’s eye. It’s been a tremendously rewarding life, a wonderful life. I’ve been able to explore the origins of time and space with some of the great living thinkers. But I wish I were a poet.
Albert Einstein, a hero of mine, once wrote, ‘Our situation is the following. We are standing in front of a closed box which we cannot open.’
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that the vast majority of the universe is composed of dark matter. The fragile balance depends on things we’ll never be able to see, hear, smell, taste, or touch. Life itself depends on them. What’s real? What isn’t real? Maybe those aren’t the right questions to be asking. What does life depend on?
I wish I had made things for life to depend on.”
and a deeper silence
when the crickets
and of what I have not written here.”