The Death Of Toni Morrison

The man sitting next to me

is wearing a wide brimmed hat

his eyes silently pinch

beneath its distinctly invisible wear

His hat seems to me shaved by whispers

in the amber voice of a distant sun,

one that has threaded itself persistently

through a fabricked canopy of leaves.

The man and I are straining to follow

the mathematical darting of honeybees

dancing before us here

through wisps of rooftop wildflowers

He suggests that if that if a hive of bees

were to find themselves subjected

to the balletic poetry of Petipa’s La Bayadère

they would find it clumsy and disorganized:

clearly the bumbling randomness of a lesser intellect.

Between each apietic burst between blossoming stems

he feels compelled to continue by telling me

that the resolute grains of space are entirely predictable

precisely until they are not.

This, he manages to elaborate,

means that the world is indeterminate:

that it is subject to randomness—

but not to error.

His favorite author had just passed this morning.

“We die,” she once said; “and that may be the meaning of life.”

“But—” she continues, as you can still hear her laugh:

“we do language anyway.”

The man in the whisper-shaved hat

eventually tells me

that the meaning of life

is simply that life is here:

that it is only through indeterminacy

that a word can ever be part of a language.

A word that never changes, after all,

means nothing.

He suggests that in this way

life is the universe trying to say something to us.

And he asks me with a gentle urgency

what I think I might say back.

Kyle Studstill