The spirit keeps wanting to float off into Italian frescoes, dissolve into acacias, fall lightly like dust into the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile the body, tired mule, pushes the grocery cart through Perishables. The math is simple: spirit + body = a sadness machine.
Subtract either spirit or body and you’re left with a story problem for actuaries. Guillotines make permanent separation a snap. Ditto famines and plagues, ditto waves if you try to cross the ocean without holding fast to a floating object.
But how to keep the machine happy— supply it with live clams and dead auteurs? Dance it through corn mazes in the Midwest? An owner’s manual would help, but how does one translate the Upanishads of the clavicle, and where do you add oil in a sadness machine?
Once, in a San José park, on vacation, I asked my daughter, Where are we? She looked up at me: My dolly sits on mine lap, I sit on yours lap, you sit on the chair’s lap, the chair sits on the world’s lap. There are a million ways to say California. Only a few promise rest.
Lance Larsen recently published collection of poems, In All Their Animal Brilliance, won the 2004 University of Tampa Prize. He has published individual poems in The New York Review of Books, The Kenyon Review, TLS, The Paris Review, The Pushcart Prize XXIX (2005), and elsewhere. His awards include fellowships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Writers at Work, and the Cultural Arts Council of Houston. A professor of English at Brigham Young University, he is married to mixed media artist Jacqui Larsen.(10/2005)