had invited me over
for a treatment,
I guess in my excitement
I had imagined
a gamut of therapeutic practices
slightly more sporting
in scope and dexterity
than what he’d ultimately
sitting on lounge chairs
all day under the shade canopy,
sipping iced teas to stay alert,
and listening to him
chuckle whenever a caravan of clouds
sauntered past the revealing sun,
or mumble an appreciative syllable
when the wind changed direction
and the butterflies zig-zagged
every which-ways momentarily
like beings freshly zapped by wonderment,
and all the while reconnoitering
the digital comings and goings
of inscrutable turtle faces
from a contingent of shells
spread along a log in the pond
by order of increasing diameter,
like a Pythagorean display of keratin,
wondering if some sort of Planckian Code
wasn’t in the offing, or if we weren’t seeing
in the appearance and disappearance
of the turtle-faced keys
some pantomimed rendition of a Miles Davis’
trumpet solo in painstakingly slow motion–
the whole nine yards of which
ultimately boiled right down
to watching the grass grow–
I was by the end understandably confused
about where it was all going.
When’s it gonna’ kick in, Hafiz?
It should be already, he said,
Maybe you’re just not sure
what you’re looking at.
pretend we’re turtles,
and all of existence our shell.
Every time… every place…
Realize it is all
a most intimate form
For a delicious instant, I vanished.
But then I came back fairly quickly
because I couldn’t help myself.
Because I had swallowed an inconsistency
without realizing it–
Hafiz is very tricky sometimes
vis-á-vis the fine print)–
and I was afraid it might
actually stay alive and
grow inside of me like
an apple seed and become a tree
whose branches would snake
through my organs while I slept
at night and then one day
stick out between my ribs
and require a most difficult surgery
from which I might never recover.
So I had to ask.
how could two turtles
share the same shell?
He thought about this for a moment.
Did I say there were only two?