unreasonable: a little lyric essay


On Sunday, no shops are open in Skofja Loka. There is no savory food available in town. The only thing to eat is gelato. I have a dish of forest berry at an outdoor café by the river, wrap the smoke from other tables around my body like a bare-threaded dress.

The shape of thought is what forms a poem and what matters is how you get from the first line to the last. That’s what the poet tells me the next day over cappuccino in Ljubljana. I admire her, wish I could be like her: independent, unreasonable. I think about this as she puts out her cigarette and moves birdlike away from the table in the Linden tree shade.

Another poet comes. I look up at him. The shape of my thought is like the night sky. I long to see it clearly throughout the day, demand it like a spoiled child. Nothing comes of this insistence. I just watch my thoughts becoming measured in the second poet’s piercing observations of the person I was and the person I am becoming. He sits and orders us each a blueberry brandy.

I don’t know how to get from there to here, I say.

The last line of the poem expresses one thing only, though I wished it to be more complex, more intricate in its form. I wished for secret crevices. But everything has changed. I have changed. I’m different now than I was the first time I came to Ljubljana, irrational and consumed with grief. And so the last line can only be filled with sobriety: you are living real life again, your husband’s been dead for over three years, it’s time to hold to what is real, you know, real, and let go of the rest.

See? Says the first poet. You make and build a poem. To do this, you have to know where things belong. The shape of my thought keeps me in the place I push away. Because the night sky is only half. There is always more to reckon with. It’s okay, I tell myself. It’s okay. It’s all going to be okay. A gelato on a Sunday evening is fine. You’ve changed. It’s fine. You will learn to be unreasonable independent of circumstance. Don’t worry, it’s fine. Wallace Stevens said that poetry is finding what will suffice.