The Common Good
November 2004


by Scott Cairns | November 2004

Availing space in which we live and move and come to glimpse the import of our being.

Availing space in which
we live and move and come
to glimpse the import of
our being. Opening
occasion of our brief,
expansive guess that when
we’re after meaning, more
is always likelier
to please than the common
lot of less with which our
frequent expeditions
are in the main rewarded.
Such lacunae lend us
all their agency, each
and every time we deign,
to enter, willing to
attend, and leaning in
to ambiguity
unguarded, undaunted,
witness then the endless
modulations present
in each passing scene. I,
too, had chance occasion,
once, to choose between
two such modes of travel -
that of knowing, clearly,
what I meant to see and,
on the other hand, not
so sure, but eager for
the roads’ divergences.
If I sigh now, it’s not
so much for me as for
the prospect of a road
constructed as we go,
bearing both our burdens
and ourselves, always just
ahead, and bearing on.

Scott Cairns is professor of English at the University of Missouri. His most recent collection is Philokalia: New & Selected Poems (Zoo Press, 2002).

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