POETRY

A Mist in the Tree

Every cell in my body has been replaced
many times, my books tell me,
until not one atom remains
of the original me
and this simulacrum in my shape
may contain molecules that once
belonged to Jesus or Hitler or Homer
or W.C. Fields.
I’d like that ― I mean,
if it were W.C. Fields.
Neither this fading map to nowhere
we call memory
nor this firefly lost in the Grand Canyon
we call consciousness
can tell us anything useful,
we’ve been set adrift without oars or compass,
yet despite the endless duplications
something singular persists,
something that thinks it has a right
to speak with a capital “I,”
something that thinks it thinks
though scarcely ever finishing a thought.
If this half-withered tree
rooted in the earth and slowly
bending to return to it
is my life
then I am a mist in the tree,
in it and of it and indivisible from it
yet also somehow apart from it.
There are many who say they know
what happens to the mist when the tree dies,
but this question has always
been above my pay grade,
and anyway it’s so foggy
I can’t see a thing.

has poems published or forthcoming in Plume Poetry Journal, The American Journal of Poetry, and The Bitter Oleander. He won the 2019 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest, and has written humor for the New Yorker, the Onion, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, as well as writing comedy for television and radio. His books include a poetry chapbook, One of These Things Is Not Like the Other, and a humor collection, It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny). His first full-length poetry collection, Falling in the Direction of Up, is forthcoming from Sagging Meniscus Press.

For more nonconformist stories, read nonconformist-mag.com

The Nonconformist Magazine

The sharpest stories and perspectives around.

The Nonconformist Magazine

The sharpest stories and perspectives around. We write about books, without compromise. For nonconformists only.

The Nonconformist Magazine

Written by

Stories and articles from “The Nonconformist” contributors; writing about books, without compromise: www.nonconformist-mag.com

The Nonconformist Magazine

The sharpest stories and perspectives around. We write about books, without compromise. For nonconformists only.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store