Panning for Gold: New and Selected Poems
Paperback: 96 pages Publisher: Imago Press (February 1, 2014) Language: English ISBN-10: 1935437860 ISBN-13: 978-1935437864 Buy Now
PANNING FOR GOLD
I couldn’t sleep and went to the kitchen
for a glass of water. I sat at the counter
before a small white vase holding Spring’s
first purple iris and, next ot it a clear blue
bowl piled high with the last of the oranges.
I swirled the water around in the glass,
and remembered long ago, on Route 66,
a roadside stand with a sign that read,
Pan For Gold, 25 cents, a whiskered man
in muddy boots dipping the pan in a sluce
and showing me how to to find gold.
I knew we were poor and needed the gold.
And after a while I found a small nugget
and gave it to my mom. She smiled
and thanked me. I thought I’d saved us
from everything bad that could happen
to us. I would have stayed there forever
panning for gold, but she said we couldn’t
afford it. I suppose she didn’t have the heart
to tell me it wasn’t real, that real nuggets
are harder to get and cost not a quarter
but a lifetime of work. I peeled an orange.
It was at its peek of sweetness. And holding
that sweetness on my tongue, I thought
of those who make lists of the thousand
things they want to do before they die,
those who believe they would find true
happiness if there were only someplace
else or with somebody else. I thought
about all the places I’ve lived, the jobs
I’ve done, the promise of each new love.
Yet none of these had fulfilled its promise.
I looked closer deep into the iris, the
texture and color of the oranges, the
miricle of me just sittin here and I
realized that all these years I’ve confused
the doing with the gold, that the doing
was only the pan, the means to the gold.