“Crouched Creature of the Plains”

Do I have it in me to write a poem tonight?
Some poems are written like an elk hide is tanned.
I fix my posture, sit up straight in this chair:
A straight-backed poem, coming right up.

Not strait-laced but shame-faced,
Dismayed that this need to write these words
Will not let me rest, will not let me alone.
What is it in me that will not let me alone?

Now that I’m sitting up straight, I wait
For the poem to come.
Some poems are written like a gazelle leaping over a fence,
Other poems are written like a lion devouring a gazelle.

Will the lion in my heart devour the lion in my mind?
No, more likely they will meet as estranged sister and brother,
And one will chase the other through the savannah in the noonday sun
As I sit here in the midnight darkness, waiting.

To chase yourself is to admit both your speed and your lack of speed:
The self you chase is fast, while the self who chases could not be slower.
Then again, the self who chases can run as fast as it is possible to run,
But it will be never be fast enough to catch the invisible self he pursues.

The problem here can be stated quite simply:
There is a self that chases and a self that is pursued.
And there are many more than these two.
Why this multiplicity of selves?

Why can there not be one self, one man?
If the man were one, he could let himself alone.
He could make great efforts and enjoy his work,
He could rest and enjoy his rest.

But there is a self that chases and a self that is pursued,
And these are only two of many.
One self gets out of bed in the mountains at midnight, sits up straight in a chair,
As the other self gets away, a crouched creature of the plains hidden in noonday sun.

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