Going Through the Motions

A poem by Mary Fister for those who must endure long and formal faculty meetings.

June 24, 2005

(to all poets, who must navigate through academia, and Robert’s Rules.)

If only the rules were usual,
I’d stand a chance
of nailing them down.
Motions do not move me, nay,
it is the view from my window
that summons—as now
melting frost mists
outlines of apple trees
that whited-out
stubborn, cloudy days,
but brought no fruit to bear.

No matter, the pear tree
eluding this view
spangled branches with its knots
of furied gold.
All summer I watched
the steady ripeness
of unchecked hearts.

But when readiness was all,
gathering time set,
limbs were stripped—
not just the load lowered for deer,
windfall for the wanderer,
clear to the topmost bough,
not a single fruit left.
I was struck
blaming jays or squirrels.
How can I call that question?

Elsewhere, seeking approval
is high risk.
I’d rather wallow
in fine-lettered ambiguity,
let the debate roll on
 until the cows come home.

And if there are no cows,
let every member
of every department
stand and give chase
to the existential implications
of the lack of cows—
that bourgeoning sense
of angst, since no matter how
we dress it up,
we must peer over
that vertiginous ridge
of self. Dare we table
a review of what awaits
on the other side?

Nevermind how a projected lack
(of cows, that is, mind you,
it all comes down
to the absence of cows
who took up the cello
shortly after weaning,
split infinitives
with cleft hooves,
so the bellows we hear
when udders are over-full
and barns become lush
with letting-down,
is the deep internment
of lovely, plaintive Bach,
nothing more, and when
they are let out to pasture,
we hear another movement,
for music is, after all,
a portable art).

So, that projected lack
spun from apocryphal sources
that are said to exist
(and who here knows the etymology
of fiction? Latin- fictio- a shaping,
a counterfeiting),
and the sensitive few
who have descended  
resurfaced, changed
inexplicably, changed
irreparably, so I hereby
proclaim there are
no friendly amendments.
For once I sidestep
our need for closure.
This opens the door (literal barn
or metaphorical, you get to choose),
for considering
how a probable past lack
was already revisited
(redundancy intentional)
on a blue sheet
that no one has seen.
Thus, there is no room
for bovine broodiness here—
only my own.


Mary Fister is an assistant professor of English at the University of Hartford. Her poetry has appeared in Cream City Review, Jabberwock Review, The Massachusetts Review, Ploughshares and other publications.


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