Feeling Absolutely Useless

I was on a short retreat last week in Homer with 2 friends who I’ve shared writing with for 30 years. One morning did a writing prompt after reading a poem by David Ignatow. We chose a word or idea from his poem and wrote our own. The line I chose said, “When I die I want it to be said that I wasted hours feeling absolutely useless and enjoyed it, sensing my life more strongly than when I worked at it.” Here is what came to me.

Feeling absolutely useless

is not the void I thought would arise,

not the dark canyon where I would

have to crane my neck up to  regard 

 my failings and tryings

and sink down to my knees in regret. 

There comes a funny freedom now

not expected but intriguing,

like tentatively having a conversation with 

 a new person who might become a friend.

I feel my limbs grow longer feeling useless,

as if they could drag down to forever and 

just dangle there, swinging, keeping time

with a new rhythm of soul.

Feeling useless chops off any need anymore

to be responsible to or responsible for or responsible 

of all those things I was told to honor or respect

or most of all not question, even a little bit.

I’m lounging inside being useless, stretched 

out on a chaise of my long ignored timelessness

if I’m of no use, perhaps I will be used by 

that thing called grace, used up of all volition,

just suspended, just watching the trees, counting

leaves. I have never 

counted leaves.. 

But long ago I would kneel close to the ground 

and spend hours looking for a four leaf clover,

getting distracted with bugs who wandered by

or giving up and turning on my back, 

out of luck, looking at clouds. 

It was a useless thing I later learned to spend a day 

this way. There were chores to do, beans to walk, 

hay to bale, feed to grind, pigs to sort, cattle to feed,

eggs to wash, fences to build, fences to repair, tires to 

change, manure to scoop. So useful I was. 

But in this getting older time, as I slide to things more 

youthful inside, I want to take up the art of being 

useless again. My hands growing softer, my eyes focused 

on the thing right before my eyes and the time without 

a clock. 

Feeling useless, feeling a languid freedom, feeling 

A rewrite coming, a new draft, a blank page. 

2 thoughts on “Feeling Absolutely Useless

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