The Reality of the Individual Life

As one who thinks of poetry
As a way of talking to yourself,
I probably do too much explaining,
But that’s what talking to yourself is like:
The things you can’t explain to anyone
Are suddenly made clear to no one, as though
Nobody mattered but yourself. And it’s the same
For each of us, whether you’re listening to me or not:
An enveloping cloud of not-quite-language
Hovering on the verge of sense that puts you
At the center of a world that doesn’t quite get you,
But of which you’re part, a world in which
Each individual life is so completely ordinary
And at the same time so extraordinary it never ends
Until it does: each individual life eternity
In miniature; each life a world.

Yet here I am, lying on my bed
In the middle of the day, feeling the years
Tick by with nothing much to say about them,
As though I’m supposed to. That’s the point though,
Isn’t it? Without the sense of an individual self
Creating time and bounded by it, I wouldn’t be real,
I wouldn’t matter, nor would you, despite our
Sentiments and appetites and dreams. It’s how we
Differ from our animals, however much we love them-
Something you and I know, but Daisy, sleeping
At the foot of my bed, can’t know. Dream on, Daisy.

John Koethe