By Rita Dove
(posted Wednesday, Sept. 9, 1998)
To hear the poet read "Against Self-Pity," click
It gets you nowhere but deeper into
your own shit--pure misery a luxury
one never learns to enjoy. There's always some
meatier malaise, a misalliance ripe
to burst: soften the mouth to a smile and
it stutters; laugh, and your drink spills onto the wake
of repartee gone cold. Oh, you know
all the right things to say to yourself: Seize
the day, keep the faith, remember the children
starving in India ... the same stuff
you say to your daughter
whenever a poked-out lip betrays
a less than noble constitution. (Not that
you'd consider actually going to India--all
those diseases and fervent eyes.) But if it's
not your collapsing line of credit, it's
the scream you let rip when a centipede
shrieks up the patio wall. And that
daughter? She'll find a reason to laugh
at you, her dear mother. Poor thing
wouldn't harm a soul! she'll say, as if
she knew of such things--
innocence, and a soul smart enough to know
when to get out of the way.
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