91: coma, canto 32

canto 32

until I improved.
But I wondered:
what would I do
if improvement never
came, which should
happen, according to the evidence,
and if death comes
who would find me?

maybe the sun
fears its own chilling . . .
but then I heard
a pol on TV call for mass prayer,
saying: god help us
because our problem
can only be solved
by your interventions.
Bring us water here
for the ground
is like a man’s mouth
who’s not had liquid for years
and his lips make the sound
of dry leaves;
his heart makes the sound
one hears kicking old tires,
crumbly in the junk yard.

I considered the risks of this.
Breathing better, listening
to the sandy sound
of my kidneys working,
feeling the bugs jumping
from my forehead to the ground.
What if the leader
asks for divine aide
and the request
goes unanswered
no joke?

I asked Lucy and Henry
and Imelda. Henry complained:
why do you bother? Would
you rather the dots on me
scramble into the cast of a heathen?
I don’t know, I said,
but it’s a reasonable question.
Why would the deity
intervene for the Pol?
And not all the others?
A good theory always
carries predictions:
we could ask: what is the likelihood?

why do you bother me?
Henry said.
It was my turn to grow stern:
Why is it a bother
and why then can’t my
friends marry, for this Pol
certainly intends to bother them
with his praying,
and did he not pay,
attend to, pay attention
in science class, enough attend
to know why it’s raining
now, outside, our own maddening rain,
which never quits?

it’s you who resents, Henry said.
Can you taste it, who has nothing
to resort to for comfort
other than a pill and contention?

resort is your word, I said,
and improper, I said,
as it implies resolution,
solution, something real;
resort would be fine
if I said: we shall resort
to walking a few blocks
for the gas that will make
our car go, as we know
this will bring resolution.
And if, I said,
the last resort came,
and we had no more resorts,
nothing else to imaging
but a prayer,
all the nuts and bolts
gone from the box,
all the springs used up
and we’ve eaten all our fingers,
and we’ve given away all
our sharp things,
read the last book
on the shelf . . .
but then I stopped
for there in the camera shot,
there where the Pol
had his flattened
his hand as all
serious prayer
is conveyed,
was a water
bottle, spring water
standing beside
his hand, as he had his
head down praying
and so his ignorance

look, I said,
it worked.
Water. It worked,
his prayer,
but his eyes are shut,
all he has to do
is open his eyes
and open the bottle
and make wise division
of the contents.
Imagine the deity, vexed,
I said, saying: Well, sir,
you never asked how much you wanted.
And by the way water
is in the very air you’re breathing.

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