The Ghazal of What Hurt

Peter Cole

Pain froze you, for years—and fear—leaving scars.
But now, as though miraculously, it seems, here you are
walking easily across the ground, and into town
as though you were floating on air, which in part you are,
or riding a wave of what feels like the world's good will—
though helped along by something foreign and older than you are
and yet much younger too, inside you, and so palpable
an X-ray, you're sure, would show it, within the body you are,
not all that far beneath the skin, and even in
some bones. Making you wonder: Are you what you are—
with all that isn't actually you having flowed
through and settled in you, and made you what you are?
The pain was never replaced, nor was it quite erased.
It's memory now—so you know just how lucky you are.
You didn't always. Were you then? And where's the fear?
Inside your words, like an engine? The car you are?!
Face it, friend, you most exist when you're driven
away, or on—by forms and forces greater than you are.
From Things on Which I've Stumbled, copywright © 2008 by Peter Cole. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Poems by This Author

Improvisation on Lines by Isaac the Blind by Peter Cole
Only by sucking, not by knowing