The Measure of Progress

by Weston Cutter

You’re made of stardust but you’re supposed to forget it.
Same as you’re supposed to forget how life
once required escaping something trying to eat you every day.
Everyone’s at least once been the answer to someone else’s question
even when you were just reciting lists of ingredients:
lemons to brighten dark meat, new dustpan
to gather more stardust, leafy greens so your dinosaur teeth
can keep their jobs, cream for when you can let yourself
remember sweetness. So many tasks. So much grinding
even asleep, dreaming of clinging to the volcano
of your ancient wants, daring yourself to let go.
Everyone’s trying to wake up from something,
let go of something, there’s some other inside everything.
Even hospitals have bugs in their walls,
birds nesting in their ducts. What’s not one location-shift away
from you holding up your hands, making your fingers a square,
saying there, that’s it. Treasures abound despite
long days of the sky looming gray as closed gym doors
while you keep running laps hoping some number
of miles adds up to joy. Then it’s Friday,
you’re at the party. Someone’s sharing pictures,
making jokes about places you love. Oh those dumb trees,
that stupid lake full of pathetic turtles, every fish
in your favorite river doesn’t even know its own name.
Your plain house, your modest door, the blah blah flowers
your mother agonized over. Take the long way home
whenever you can. Take whatever way home you find.
Eventually the sky will clear and you’ll land on a good
enough recipe for the tomatoes you’ve been waiting
to buy till you knew how to use them. So red. So neither
fruit-nor-vegetable. Such goofy blooms we are,
loping down streets hoping some animal will find us
so irresistible we’ll live out our days being happily devoured.

Weston Cutter lives with his family in Fort Wayne, IN, is an Associate Professor of English at the University of St Francis, has written several books (most recently CAREFUL from Finishing Line Press), and runs Haven Watch Co.