Today, a letter, which begins this way: You are very good at being human. It’s the apparent survivors who sleepwalk through life without feeling bliss or agony who aren’t.

See, this is me a few hours ago: playing the ukulele in my underwear, trying to ignore the afternoon heat. I’ve flung my shorts somewhere in the room, I’ve filled my coffee mug with Coke and ice, and I’ve piled all my hair on top of my head. I know I have work to do, but I’ve got my feet up the table and I spent the next hour enjoying myself.

I wonder if this is what P. had in mind. He asks me about my manuscripts, and they’re there, buried under an annotated Through the Looking Glass I meant to give to a friend on her wedding.

I remember this from Ruefle’s Madness, Rack, and Honey: “I suppose, as a poet, among my fears can be counted the deep-seated uneasiness surrounding the possibility that one day it will be revealed that I consecrated my life to an imbecility.”

P. tells me, I think it’s very possible for you to be happy and loved.

The Hand
Mary Ruefle

The teacher asks a question.
You know the answer, you suspect
you are the only one in the classroom
who knows the answer, because the person
in question is yourself, and on that
you are the greatest living authority,
but you don’t raise your hand.
You raise the top of your desk
and take out an apple.
You look out the window.
You don’t raise your hand and there is
some essential beauty in your fingers,
which aren’t even drumming, but lie
flat and peaceful.
The teacher repeats the question.
Outside the window, on an overhanging branch,
a robin is ruffling its feathers
and spring is in the air.

I will be serious today. I need to work. Even if the temptation is strong to deviate from the plan. I always deviate from the plan. It would be nice if I can rely on myself for a change. Also, I need to stop buying new notebooks. I have ten new ones sitting on my desk, all bought just this month. There’s something wrong with me.

Perfect Reader
Mary Ruefle

I spend all day in my office, reading a poem
by Stevens, pretending I wrote it myself,
which is what happens when someone is lonely
and decides to go shopping and meets another customer
and they buy the same thing. But I come to my senses,
and decide when Stevens wrote the poem he was thinking
of me, the way all my old lovers think of me
whenever they lift their kids or carry the trash,
and standing outside the store I think of them:
I throw my arms around a tree, I kiss the pink
and peeling bark, its dead skin, and the papery
feel of its fucked-up beauty arouses me, lends my life
a certain gait, like the stout man walking to work
who sees a peony in his neighbor’s yard and thinks ah,
there is a subject of white interpolation
, and then
the petals fall apart for a long time, as long as it takes
summer to turn to snow, and I go home at the end and watch
the news about the homeless couple who met in the park,
and then the weather, to see how they will feel tomorrow.