the feast i call today

Posted by on September 8, 2010

The Holy Surprise of Right Now

by Samuel Hazo

If you can see your path laid out ahead of you
step by step, then you know it’s not your path.
– Joseph Campbell

Inside Brooks Brothers’ windows
it’s July.
Sportshirts on sleek
dummies speak in turquoise,
polo, Bermuda, and golf.
Outside, it’s very much the first
of March.
The sportshirts say
today’s tomorrow and the present
tense be damned.
They tell me
to forget that here’s the only place
we have.
They claim what matters
most is never now but next.
I’ve heard this argument before.
It leaves me sentenced to the future,
and that’s much worse than being
sentenced to the past.
The past
at least was real just once . . .
What’s
called religion offers me the same.
Life’s never what I have
but what’s to come.
But where
did Christ give heaven its address
except within each one of us?
So, anyone who claims it’s not
within but still ahead is contradicting God.
But why go on?
I’m sick of learning to anticipate.
I never want to live a second
or a season or a heaven in advance
of when I am and where.
I need the salt and spices
of uncertainty to know I’m still
alive.
It makes me hunger
for the feast I call today.
It lets desire keep what
satisfaction ends.
Lovers
remember that the way that smoke
remembers fire.
Between anticipation
and the aggravation of suspense, I choose
suspense.
I choose desire.

* * *

Today, and for many recent days, my mind has been clamoring to comprehend things– the past, the present. I stay up late reading, I go to bed thinking, and I wake up still spinning within my desire to comprehend all the complexity of my life, and the stories that I like to tell myself about myself. And because I cannot seem to reach the end of the realizations I am having, I feel myself to be in a hamster wheel of existential exhaustion that I would like to speed through and come to the end of, where I will achieve comprehension and, hopefully, some elusive state of maturity (heaven?). Meanwhile my heart is yearning for this made-up future in which I am somehow a more advanced person, perfectly loved and loving.

Well, this is probably all fine, I suppose. To hunger and thirst, to knock and and to seek and to ask, and maybe even to nag God like the persistent widow–these cannot be all bad states. But it does turn awful when I allow myself to be “sentenced to the future,” and I try to eschew the salt and spice of the irresolvable present. Today, I am trying to settle into the comforting confines of the day and realize that on the inside of this day nothing is too unbearable to be borne and I am actually doing just fine, even though I have been trying to make it to the YMCA since 9:30 this morning and should probably give up and change out of my workout clothes since it is now already 3:00 p.m.

{ Note: I did my best to replicate the typesetting of the original poem but it is probably not exactly like the original.}

Poetry Wednesday

  1. Kris Livovich
    September 8, 2010

    What an interesting poem! There are so many lines in it that call out to be repeated, but I like the line you used as a title, The Feast I Call Today.

    My to-do list keeps me constantly thinking of the future and makes the present looking a bit bleak and washed out.

  2. Beth
    September 8, 2010

    I really enjoyed this poem the imagery of the storefront windows and their illusions and the wisdom of its words, these in particular: I need the salt and spices
    of uncertainty to know I'm still
    alive.
    It makes me hunger
    for the feast I call today.
    It lets desire keep what
    satisfaction ends.

    And always a pleasure to run into a Joseph Campbell quote.

    PS Wear your work out clothes all day. It makes a statement. Peace and blessings to you on this day.

  3. Molly Sabourin
    September 15, 2010

    Julia, thank you for this:

    Today, I am trying to settle into the comforting confines of the day and realize that on the inside of this day nothing is too unbearable to be borne and I am actually doing just fine

    It brought me comfort tonight. Just visiting your thoughts here and reflections is such a treat. And what a fascinating poem! Good choice.