Tiresias is visited by Odysseus in hell—blind Tiresias, seven years a woman, one who can understand birds, who informs Oedipus of his crime. Oedipus who kills his father and marries his mother, the impressively hot Jocasta, all because he tries to avoid his destiny—which was to kill his father and marry his mother. The lesson, I have been told more than once, is don’t mess with the gods, as if one could. Destiny gobbles you up either way.
Someone chatters about free will, something given by God so we can chose, though the choice is already known. I sip my coffee and wonder if the architect knows exactly how many cups, or if his insights are more general in nature. The ritual, the sacrament—part of it being the coffee has grown cold, and the poet goes to the kitchen to pour a fresh cup.
The fat Buddha laughs at me. He’s been sitting on my desk for years—first in my office at the Baptist university and now in my home—collecting dust, laughing at me. Why do you struggle so much, he asks. Destiny, I answer. He laughs a deep belly laugh. Of course it is, he says.
I’ve hit a block, the poet says. Come to the point in my self analysis, in confronting my demons, where going both farther and further would risk hurting someone still breathing, someone who might—he doesn’t seem to worry about the dead so much, though he does find himself talking to them from time to time, making amends when he can.
Tiresias appears in the Cantos. I fumble my way through a stanza or two. All of western literature in a stanza or two.
This morning on our walk, the guy cutting the fields stops his tractor and comes over to talk with us. Haven’t seen you guys in months, he says. He has been mowing the fields being turned into new subdivisions all over the county, he explains. Explains his supervisor has hinted he is slow in his work. So I showed him the map, he says. These are his exact works—holy shit. It’s a conversational mode I hear over and over, as if it were an old record skipping back on itself. And I told him, is a repeated refrain. The unhappy, the dissatisfied—and I told him…
I sip my coffee and toy with the notion of destiny. The fat Buddha laughs and tells me to just let go. But even letting go would be part of the knitting. The question remains, what do we ever decide.
Let go, the fat porcelain figure bought in Chinatown, San Francisco whispers.