Planet Unflinching

It used to be an axiom that an object cannot occupy two positions at the same time, but now, of course, one may argue that in cyberspace it is possible to do just that. Perhaps someday it will also be possible to occupy the same position at two different times. At the dinner table, there between your two brothers, with your father and mother at either end and your mother’s quietly hysterical, twice-divorced sister seated next to you and plucking the corner off her paper napkin by increments, you will be both 10 and 17. At 10 you will eat your slice of ham with the slice of pineapple on top, your canned green beans and instant mashed potatoes, and try to understand how there can be a God if he packs people off to hell like a Nazi routing trains to the Holocaust, and at 17 you will have on pink pedal pushers and a sleeveless pink shirt that dips in at the waist, and you will feel so sexy, so ready for something to happen—without understanding that this is what you feel, that this is why you can hardly be bothered to eat and can’t wait to escape into your room and make a wish on the first star you see from the dormer window that has a built-in bench in front of it. When you leave the table and enter your room, night will be nudging the window but won’t yet be inside. Things happen when it is time for them to happen, you know. Or maybe not; maybe that is a sentimental notion, an instance of wishful thinking. But is there any other kind of thinking? How much really hard thinking, how much really cold logic, is there in this world? Maybe somewhere else there is a world where reason is never as soft as a bed, as flat as a stale beer, or as woozy as a woman who, to ease her back pain, has been washing down codeine all day with sips of the bad-tasting beer. The woman thinks she would get up if she could think of a good reason to, but damned if she can. It would mean giving up being where she is, and who knows if where she would be would be better or worse? She could find herself in another world, and it might, I suppose, be a world unlike this one, where no taint of desire afflicts argumentation, where no untested assumption or hidden agenda stains predication. We will call this world Unflinching. On Unflinching, winds reach hurricane speeds, and extremes of temperature occur with night and day. A green leaf is a rare example of moderation, a compromise between breath and poison, a pragmatic adaptation to circumstance. Unflinching is quite a world. People say it’s a place they would like to visit, but most of them concede that they wouldn’t want to live there.

About the Author

Kelly Cherry

Kelly Cherry is the author of over 20 books of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Her most recent title is History, Passion, Freedom, Death, and Hope: Prose About Poetry. She lives with her husband on a small farm in Virginia.

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