This surface across which my daily eyes sweep –
while glimpsing the wood beneath the papers,
the unwashed mug, the dying flowers –
                       I won’t go on, we all have our lives
                       spread out sprawling
                       which no amount of throat-clearing and resolutions
ever gets tidy;

this flatness across which I’m just a flicked photo,
or recorded in a few scribbled words
and shuffled with others into a folder
                        to be shelved or shredded
                        or filed in a cabinet for someone
                        to pull me out, whenever they like, assess my profile,
and shrug or sigh;

if my seeing must skid across such surface,
I place that under a window to receive
the shadows of the yet-standing oak –
                        so a vibrant form may shimmer
                        a trembling image on the planed wood;
                        the way our living can slide over whatever we're called
and shuck off name and number –

and know how knowing knows: through the marks,
the scars – like the stick figures and names:
‘Big Steve’, ‘Nick+Judy’– carved in classroom desks;
                         now ‘in banking’, or ‘car-crash’, or ‘who? where?'
                         No polish can make that smooth.
                         But with knots and splintering, the sprawl-on stills. Spills.
Open - no snags, no finish.

Posted: Fri 7 May, 2021