Monday, December 14, 2009

Don Quixote

I woke up; it was the hour
of nocturnal terrors. My head
still on my pillow—in the unsettling
darkness of my room—I thought:
“I’m old.”

I couldn’t
go back to sleep.
I slipped my bony toes
in my slippers
ragged and thread-bare
like the life I’d lived.
Like so many nights
of late, I wrapped a blanket
around my shivering frame
opened the door of my room
and slipped out of the hushed house.

Outside, the ground
was damp, the night
abloom with stars
screaming silently
as they fell toward
God knows where—but certainly
far from my barren fields.
From the barn
an owl’s gold stare
questioned me. Not my presence
in the lateness of the night--
but my entire existence.

Spring was near, I could feel
the ground turning under my feet.
Then a second thought occurred to me:
“Soon I’ll be dead; soon my flabby
flesh, my brittle bones, my dried up brain
will be enriching the soil-- the earth
will be my roof, daisies my constellations.”

“No, this cannot be the end,” I heard
myself say. “There has to be more
to life than all the stories I’ve read
everything I haven’t seen or felt
the hardness of my cold bed.”

It was then the idea came
to me: I must take
to the open road
to redress the grievances,
rectify the wrongs, amend
the errors, and reform
the abuses in the world.
“Before it gets too late,” I added,
“I have to find love.”

It took a few days to prepare
before I rode away
on my Rocinante, my neighbor Sancho
for my squire, and the lady Dulcinea
del Toboso as the compass
of my loveless heart.

The rest of the story is well-known.
But what has never been
written about before
was that instant when I woke up
in my frigid bed, stepped out in
the chilly dawn, and felt
worms stirring the ground under me
reminding me I
had one more spring to live
and it was my duty to live it.

Published in Cimarron Review, 2007