I’ve grown too impatient to read long poems.
After a while my eyes start shifting like dancers
who’ve missed their entrance cues. I find –
I am reading a different poem all together
than the one on the page. I close my eyes.
The letters are dancing and chewing my eyelids,
like tiny caged rodents, sharp teeth protruding,
their round eyes almost blind,
their whiskers trembling, trying to smell through.
This new poem I am reading in my mind is related
to the one in the book, but as a distant cousin,
the family ties are vaguely remembered,
some childhood memories, a gray photograph,
taken at some forgotten occasion,
but not much else ties them together.
The long poem is starting to look like a shopping list.
Each item is a new line, the stanzas form departments,
where all the words are labeled and neatly
packed in rows on parallel shelves.
I’m forever lost in its aisles, in the endless labyrinth,
where each detail is screaming
to be noticed and appreciated.
I am taken hostage by the advertisements,
the cleverness of its commercials,
coupons, attractive packaging,
already forgetting what was on my list.
What was that I was looking for
when I started reading, and feeling –
oh, so, so inadequate.
The long poem turns into a dark ancient forest
and I am a child lost in its meanings,
the unfamiliar verbs are howling like owls,
announcing the arrival of the twilight time.
It is not yet the night, but it’s chilly already
and the long arms of the shadows are touching my feet.
Alarmed and still hoping for a last minute happy-ending miracle
or at least for some understanding or a familiar sight -
I rashly turn pages, feeling slightly embarrassed
of my impatient flight, and vaguely suspecting
that some part of me is still lost in the maze
in the complex associations and hidden meaning
of that long poem, in its hostile branches and roots
of incomprehensible words, and that small part of me
may never be rescued from its crowded pages,
and I will never know what happens at the end.