Digging Totems

I dug up my totem pole yesterday.

It had been sitting in the middle

Of my ex girlfriend’s living room

Gathering dust

Looking shriveled and neglected.

No one was home so I went in

With a variety of shovels and sheers

And dug and dug

Until the carpet was uprooted

And the bedrock foundation had been cracked

And dirt was seeping through the newly formed fissures.

After considerable push and pull

I unearthed it completely

Then carried it out over my shoulder

Without looking back.

There is a glade behind my house

With craggy trees, bramble

And a thin little creek trickling

Off toward somewhere.

I found a flat spot of earth

And placed the totem there

Carving a hole into the soil

Planting it firmly until it neither

Swayed nor rattled in the wind.

When finally I completed my task

When finally it stood strong and motionless

I tied a rope around it

Fastening the other end to my waist

Laughing all the while.

And I danced

And I ran

And swung like a tether ball

Around and around the totem.

I did so until the moon

Was bobbing among the woods

Like a Chinese lantern,

And the squirrels had retired to their dens

And darkness enveloped the neighborhood.

In the morning I awoke

To the sounds of birds chirping and pecking

At its wood-carved faces.

With my coffee and my book of poetry,

I sat at its feet

The white blue Sun draped over my back,

Knock, knock, knocking

At its solid walnut bole

Breathing in and out

To the satisfying rhythm

Of completion.

Then, when my knuckles tuckered,

And my wrist grew tired,

I plopped against it,

Tipped my cap over my eyes

And napped until it seemed that

My spine had fused with the totem itself,

Until there was no arguing

No quibbling or questioning

That I was anything but centered,

Anything but happy,

Anything but home.




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