I Dig Deep (by Mark Nielsen, 12/6 – 12/9/2012)
I dive deep to retrieve these truths,
picking hidden clues out of the silt
at the bottom of Lago de Corazon,
like they are clams.
Later I boil them down over a campfire.
I make the stubborn, ancient,
hard-shelled things open their mouths
so I can eat their meat
and know their secrets.
Or else I drill down,
like a farmer digging a well.
When I come against a stone I pry it loose–
out of my way, Pain Mountain,
glacier dropping, impediment.
If it’s too big, I ask for help.
My Father has the diamond-tipped drillbit
that pierced his own Son’s side.
I’m in over my head before too long.
I drill down past the tv news,
ninety nine problems, true-or-false campaigns,
and scabbed-over scrapes near the surface.
Past digital worms, blind moles and singing beetles.
I drill down past Mandela, Gandhi, King and Fermi,
and the best intentions of every century,
all crushed under the weight of our sin.
I come to a layer of broken toys:
plastic X-Wings and steel fighter planes,
cast-off detritus of insane war games.
The deeper I dig, I find more of the same–
popes and presidents with heads hung in shame,
their hands all tied, denying the blame.
I dig up what the Wilburys buried,
and give away for free
the gems the Winfreys would sell to the highest bidder.
Then I dig up Mr. Eliot in the cave of my unconscious
(which Jung, Freud, Luther and the Buddha
have taken turns shoring up and taking apart).
T.S. drinks tea with Ms. Dickinson,
while Dante, Plato, Machiavelli and Marx
play a deadly game of poker nearby.
Walt Whitman and Robert Johnson
are off battle-rapping in a corner,
and I wonder who will win.
They give me a nod, even wave me over,
but I keep on drilling.
The all-important Light
still filters down dimly from the surface.
Shadows and strange echoes
make it hard going this far down.
But I must drink the muddy water here below–
here, where it is seldom safe and often lonely,
but at least the water’s not poisoned.