I could have chosen to write this poem about the drastically entitled and out-of-his-mind-seeming white septuagenarian who, clearly upset, yowled I’M ABOUT TO BE UPSET, while turning to address a line-out-the-door post office like we were attending his performance art piece, who said he was going to BLOW UP THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT because YOU wouldn’t give him a money order without proper ID, & I know, technically, now I have written this poem about him, but would you please set that aside for the moment & let me write to you about how you remind me of a babysitter from my childhood— Alex or Ian, Allison or Marie—telling me a secret I’m not supposed to know just yet, because of age or subjective cultural context, in your 2-door Honda bumping let’s talk about sex baby as I gulp cans of Mr. Pibb in the backseat. You whisper capital-T truth to me not to gain social capital, nor thwart thine enemy, nor even to gain my confidence so that one day, in the thick of an apocalyptic-type emergency, as we surely shall be, I will decide to take you on my proverbial lifeboat above all the others, no, nor not for any other self-serving reason do you ladle generous amounts of altruistic, tender, personal attention upon me, but just for that the fact that we are alive together in this moment in time and space and this post office was once a buffet-style restaurant where, as a kid, I looked forward to eating the few times of year we did, because this particular establishment had the option to devour unlimited amounts of pizza & soft serve ice cream, which now, you divulge to me, the guys in the back call it The Posterosa, which delights me, which salves me, which allows me to see we a little more truly, this revealing of our secrets, this dogged bursting through of taboo, which palimpsests our souls a little closer with you on me on I on us on them on they on we.
Copyright © 2018 by Rosechard Wehrenberg. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 31, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“This poem centers on a delightful little fact: before the main post office in Bloomington, Indiana, was a post office, it was a buffet-style restaurant called Ponderosa. In this poem, I am curious about what kinds of epistemologies (i.e., theories of knowing or unknowing) rise in us from the often hurricane-like and harried thought processes concocted and corroborated by the vast and varied American quotidian that necessarily houses the baggage—and delights, yes—of our eternal relationships with each other. How can trust, vulnerability—love—be chosen, engendered, gifted? I want to say: if we can be allowed to remember one thing, let it be the tender process by which we heal sorrow back into joy. This poem is a bow of reverence to Maggie Anderson and her poem of the same title, which houses a line that is often thrumming in my mind: ‘How casually and certainly / we say things about the only world we know.’”
Rosechard Wehrenberg is the author of the chapbooks Abracadabrachrysanthemum (w the trees, 2018), Hands (Monster House Press, 2015), and River (Monster House Press, 2014), cowritten with Ross Gay.
Date Published: 2018-10-31
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/epistemological