Live Your Way into the Answer [poem] by Sue Swartz

Because against this, that
Because the angels of our better nature
And the angle of days to come
Because as we said goodbye        As we say goodbye

Because this is the book of bursting through
And the book of coming undone
Because bricks without straw     Because bruise without respite

And the compulsion to be heard
Because the crack in everything
And because the darkening

Because the darkness
And the daughter of Pharaoh in every generation
Because the distance between
And the dog,
chained in some fool’s backyard: barking and barking
Because the dream of crossing

Because the ego that dreamt  (its elliptical nature)
And the events of the night—

Because the faceless god of frogs & thunder
And the faithful god of time
Because the fear         And the fire           And the fissure
Because glimpses of—

And Heisenberg’s uncertainty

Because I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread
And if this, then that                Because imagine all the people

And in the interstices, hidden

Because joining one thing to another
Because knee deep in muddy water
Because the light of a candle
in the heart of the sun

Because locusts & lice            And the long strange trip
Because love supreme                        And the luminous underneath

Because mantles marked         Because metaphoric
Meteoric          And the middle that will not hold

Because naked ambition                     And nothing as it was
And the one who takes off her shoes

And the one and the one and the one—
Because of this permeable world

And the photo that spreads beyond the frame
Because the point of no return        And the portable palace
Because the protests in Tahrir Square
(All that purposeful unbecoming)

Because the quotidian
Because the radical

Because the sea filled with baskets
And seeing an angel in the marble, he carved
Because starry, starry night      And a steel bar can be bent

Because suitcases filled with suffering
Because the touchable—

Because the unleavened—     And the vertical drop.

Because what is in your hand
And what I am is what I am      And when you drew the map
And where we’re going, there’s no—

Because who will live in our house
And who will memorize our story
And why we’re whispering        Why we’re whispering
as we say goodbye

Because xenophobia
Because you and you and you
Because zealotry and zeitgeist

And the Zen koan: one drop reveals the ocean
Because zero & zilch & zip
Because the zany zookeeper
unlocked the cage—


Image of 1930s Switchboard Operator

[Refer: This poem includes the following quotes: Title quote (live your way…) – Rainer Maria Rilke, “Letters to a Young Poet #4”; Against this, that – Carolyn Forche, “Blue Hour”; Because the crack in everything – Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”; Chained in some fool’s backyard: barking and barking – Tony Hoagland, “Personal”; I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread – Langston Hughes, “Democracy”; Love supreme – John Coltrane; Permeable world – Rachel Barenblat, “Permeable World.”]

Sue Swartz is a writer, visual artist, social activist, Jewish communal leader, and all-around good egg living in Bloomington, Indiana. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Poetica, Cutthroat, Lilith, 5 a.m., Smartish Pace, and elsewhere.

 Image by Christopher Woods: