Dick’s Kitchen Metaphysical

 

When I set aside the book about knowledge
of higher worlds and how to attain it,
dog-earing the passage that explains
why the initiate must listen without
judgment to whatever is being said,
however contrary or noxious it might be,
the waitress at Dick’s Kitchen asks me
if I’m still “working on everything.”
And I answer “yes” because I’m not only
lingering over my turkey burger
and sweet yam “not fries” but pondering
questions of life and death and how to
access the mystical realm that shimmers
like a heat mirage at the center of all things.
But when she further inquires if my food
“is still tasting well,” I feel myself plummeting
back into the lower worlds where all I do
is silently correct my fellow human beings
for the way they dress or drive or speak or think,
peppering them with sarcastic questions
or barking at them in my head like
a full-blown crazy person: HOW COULD
YOU VOTE FOR THAT APOPLECTIC
ORANGE-FACED RACIST IGNORAMUS?
or OH FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST YES YOU
CAN TURN RIGHT ON RED THAT’S BEEN
A RULE FOR ABOUT 40 YEARS
I GUESS THEY FORGOT TO TELL YOU!

But then I remember the section on
patience, forbearance, and non-anger,
(which I had been tempted to skip), that says:
“Every symptom of impatience produces
a paralyzing effect on the higher faculties.”
And suddenly I see them, my higher faculties,
frozen like statues, in attitudes of agony
and strife, like Rodin’s prisoners
or Michelangelo’s slaves: wisdom languishing
in chains, compassion with downcast eyes,
kindness struggling to rise
from the stone.

–John Brehm, from The Manhattan Review and No Day at the Beach (forthcoming in February 2020 from the University of Wisconsin Press)

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