Step inside this head pointed toward its well-meaning friend and have a look around:
Part confusion, part havoc, part revulsion, part revolution—
Across the table, a friend and colleague worth much respect and love
Explaining actions based on whether each conforms with “who he is”—
He speaks of this igneous foundation
As if it’s been a continent in the South Pacific Ocean that I somehow never noticed,
And not—as it seems to me—
A rope bridge he has been weaving in clear view for the past fifteen minutes.
Would you tell him to continue?
Is it right to let him lace this suspension bridge constellation
Of percussive harmonies between teeth and lips backed by breath,
To sit back and watch as he walks upon his silky lattice over the ravine he faces?
Fifteen minutes? Who is he trying to convince?
I don’t believe that we are what we say we are.
Or at least, I don’t think saying it makes us so.
Inside, we know better.
But even if we are what we think we are, what a clumsy web that would make.
Better that we are what we do—now we are getting closer,
But again, let’s not be foolish.
All of my actions today began with an act I never chose!
Even if, as an infant, I chose to open my eyes, I never chose to be an infant.
No sir, “we are what we make of what others have made of us!”
I say what I say, think what I think, act how I act
Not merely because I choose to do so
But so much more because
I have found myself
In this body, and not another.
In this place, and not another.
In this time, and not another.
And I do not have the luxury or illusion to speak continents beneath me,
Except in poetic sparks and glimmers.
When I say “I,” it means a process unfolding
Through both history’s whim and my choosing,
Reacting in a time and in a place.
Constructing from what surrounds me
What I have noticed does not.
You, friend, are no island.
Unless, that was what your Poet meant when he said to live by faith.