The figure receding ahead is,
you know, Happiness. Not fleeing,
rather lazing, enjoying the displays and racks
of goods, the spiels
and dappled colors (it’s a bazaar);
the welcoming office doors
whence come the twittering of underpaid
staff and devoted interns doing
good (it’s a charity
yearning to be merged into the state);
the hallway, wider and nicer
than the norm, almost a common space
The gender of Happiness is hard to make out.
It could be an all-options-open
post-human, or an accepted, liberated
trans. It may also be, however,
that the sex is indeterminate
because Happiness belongs to all,
and if, when, you overtake it,
it can’t be yours alone.
What’s certain is that when you touch
and hold her (let’s say her), the merchants
will cheer and bring out demitasses
of tea on trays, applauding love and retail.
The faces of the nice
kids from the NGO will shine,
as never before and seldom hoped,
with victory. All the doors
will open and a party spill
along the hallway into each
(where none shall cry, Oh, the place is a mess!).
Put out of your mind, as corridors
give way to a kind of sky, that your
bad hip, bad heart, whatever,
will stop you ever catching up.
That you may have misinterpreted
(it happens often in crowded air)
the fact that she is seeking you,
but first must cross half the distance,
half that, half that, and so can never come –
a paradox long barred from mathematics,
still current in the spiritual realm.
FREDERICK POLLACK is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure and Happiness (Story Line Press), and two collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape With Mutant (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018). Many other poems in print and online journals. Adjunct professor creative writing George Washington University, Washington, DC.