Why Else Would One of My Ears Be Turning Like a Satellite Dish, A Poem by Chris Russell

I used to walk out into this field and hide behind a fallen tree

where I’d watch the deer lounge in the tall grass,

and I’m thinking this time alone with them

made me start to think more like a deer than a human.

I guess from far enough away we all throw specks of light

and shadow across a space,

sometimes toward each other, other times away from each other,

and sometimes neither.

As I understand it, the Buddha said we have three afflictions:

Attachment, Aversion and Ignorance,

and that one can practice meditation to help with these.

But I think he also said that remedies can become a kind of arrogance

and bliss you away from your compassion,

and that sometimes it’s kinder to practice being gentle

with how you will always come up short,

until you’re not necessarily happy, but at rest with the moment you are,

who can only be sensed at all because of discomfort.

That’s very different than trying to make the story you want to become

build up toward a sky that’ll never be euphoric enough.

In the end, this quietly radical practice becomes

one more example of how all of us want to be free from suffering,

and in this way, is really no different than communing with deer

or flashing into an icicle point.

But then there’s nothing to do after that except sit around,

feeling lonely all the time, and die.

And that’s right, there is that.

Sitting doesn’t do much for the circulation,

loneliness is pretty miserable, and stays that way,

even while you begin to reach out in unfamiliar ways

and do things you would never do, had you been in your right mind.

Impermanence is all about putting loose change over your eyes,

and then asking you to pay.

What’s the point of any of it then?

As far as I can tell there’s no point really,

except to maybe just keep flashing back on a sense of here-ness.

Why else would one of my ears always be turning like a satellite dish

in the direction of what’s both never and always there?

The way I see it, reader,

that’s got to be just as important for poetry as carving out a story

about why it was here, and then making sure you will like the taste of it.

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