Lawless Pantoum for Jack Gilbert

After an interview in The Paris Review, The Art of Poetry No. 9

By Rebecca L'Bahy 

He was determined to have the life he wanted
wondered why so many settle for so little,
asked why we weren’t more determined
to have a life that mattered. He believed
 
we were missing out, settling for so little: family,
houses, jobs. Didn’t we know we don’t have much time? 
He thought he knew what makes a life that matters.
My daughter tells me she wants real wings
 
so that she may fly. My daughter the genie, asks:
What have you always wanted? waits in the dark for answers
easy as wings. I feel myself running out of time.
Be greedy for what’s inside you, Jack said.
 
Under starred ceiling, my genie waits.
What have I been doing polishing poems in the dark?
What have you always wanted? She asks again.
My heart beats: hum-drum, hum-drum.
 
Have I become dreamless?
Jack said the heart has the ability to experience so much. 
Tell me Jack, have I settled for too little?
The world is my daughter’s sky and she wants wings
 
so she might fly. Under the sheets I brush roots off my feet.
Jack turns his back on us, the conventional
family, home, jobs. Believed they diverted
from what mattered—ask me again why
 
I’m not more determined, have settled for so little.
I will show you how my fingers brush gently across
my daughter’s back, how a pen becomes a wing
and the whole world our sky

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s