Intelligence is How We Tell Ourselves We Shouldn’t Care, A Poem by Chris Russell

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a room

where everything you looked at was you,

and where everything you ever wanted could be had

with a glance or touch.

I like the idea of learning from an old mentor

one who has a long white beard as big as he is,

that’s grazing the ground with each step

atop a mountain with stone huts and benches.

But being who I am

I’d like to believe I’m already there,

especially because in the literal sense I’m not,

and you’re right that makes me difficult to live with,

no matter how kind or optimistic I come across.

I know I’m always being indirect even when I’m not.

As long as I can continue to have these

great empathic conversations with myself I’m okay

with being alone, and even welcome it,

like all those times when I was a kid

I sat in the woods and waited to be picked up

and carried to my home beyond my home

by branches of feeling I couldn’t think myself out of,

and later would return

with this calm opened across my face

and walk up to my bedroom

and lie down on my bed and fall asleep,

the leaves shaking along my veins a kind of light now.

I think we’re shadow and light.

But that we have to feel like objects first

before we can realize that,

and that nobody really knows where an object is,

or how to know for sure that they were here,

and that for a long while, however long it takes,

intelligence is how we tell ourselves we shouldn’t care.

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