To the Unexamined Life
“The only wisdom . . .
Is the wisdom of humility . . .”
--T. S. Eliot
How the French mason brags of his bricks,
the cook of his bread-stuffed soup.
How he on the lake boasts of the rich friends,
she of the daughter’s daily, hourly calls,
and in these things seems wisdom to me,
a self-satisfied sigh misting over
all the horizons. But I am sadly wise,
know I know nothing, and even the cloying scent
of the autumn sweet clematis cannot
shut out the drift of smoke from the city dump.
The steep edges on the map turn soil
abruptly into sea—fathomless
and filled with squid practicing
an intelligence I’ll never have.
What a tumid truth we own,
and how useful to our means and ends.