Wednesday Poem

San Francisco

All the way west, where Isadora Duncan was born
and saw her family ruined
in finance, to which her response
was drop out of class, teach dance: I’m reading the latest
conference abstracts, which assure
us that the right distance
answers any statistical question.
Mine is distrust in the premise, life
as an aggregate task,
where the threshold of significance, technically, lapses
to insignificant anything that risked going missing.
Isn’t that what the coast
means, after all: past the chance for time and space?
All? Everything counts
because everything lasts.
Duncan’s children were drowned. Her school was unheated.
Her last words—to love!—were shameful and thus misquoted.
Out here, they build on the faults
because they know nowhere else. The man who promised
me forever, then left, would shudder
in his sleep as if dreaming a past of quakes
or a future: I held on. It doesn’t matter
that no one predicts their own happiness
and everyone is in pain,
that the best use of a mind is to unmake its own inaccurate
faith that what comes next
will be utterly different and utterly the same.
Or the best use of the body, not the mind.
Duncan, running: she “left herself behind.”

by Siobhan Phillips
The Ecotheo Review, 4/29/15