Note to Myself
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what anyone supposed,
and luckier. Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”
Self-pity makes excuses
blames others for blocking the way of creation.
“I celebrate myself and sing myself,” Walt Whitman
intoned. Without blame, apology or braggadocio, he
claimed his plot of ground and planted his flag
as men on the moon did a hundred years hence.
A prophet, yes, and nature’s priest, but also a man
relishing the role he knew was his as POET
and nurse, as it turned out, to Civil War wounded.
Like Frederick Douglass of that same era, who wrote
his slave narrative, adding to it, subtracting from it
as the years heaped up behind him, as did Whitman
himself add and subtract. They practiced mathematics
of poetry and justice. Self-pity had no place in the lives
of these men, who knew the decades allotted to them
were a rosary of sorts, each bead a poem, or an action
that spelt the future.