Friday, May 13, 2016

A Happy Sisyphus

The Myth of Perfectability
Linda Pastan

I hang the still life of flowers
by a window so it can receive
the morning light, as flowers must.

But sun will fade the paint,
so I move the picture to the east centre
of a dark wall, over the mantel
where it looks too much like a trophy -
one of those animal heads
but made up of blossoms.

I move it again to a little wall
down a hallway where I can come upon it
almost by chance, the way the Japanese
put a small window in an obscure place,
hoping that the sight of a particular landscape
will startle them with beauty as they pass,
and not become familiar.

I do this all day long, moving
the picture or sometimes a chair or a vase
from place to place. Or else
putting in a comma to slow down
a long sentence, then taking it out,
then putting it back again

until I feel like a happy Sisyphus,
or like a good farmer who knows
that the body's work is never over,
for the motions of plowing and planting continue
season after season, even in his sleep.

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