Just For Today

kindled by Rumi, Ari and Haleh

“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”

– Mary Oliver, from Owl & Other Fantasies

Just for today, call me anything you like and I will answer without argument as only one who has outlived her own sense of pride or shame can. Call me unrighteous and I will curtsy with no trace of irony. Tell me I have no scruples, and I will empty all my pockets just to prove you right. Condemn me as a traitor and I shall plead guilty while cuffing my own wrists. 

Only to those whose gods stay put is it given to be faithful. If I am fickle it is because mine are perennially unhoused. They roam the world recklessly with no sense of direction. Do you know what this means? Yesterday I bowed East and today facing South. God knows where I will turn tomorrow. My loyalty is chained to a moving target. Would you call me indiscreet?  I will nod vigorously in agreement. 

I am not a storehouse but a sieve, and a tattered one at that. Do not be persuaded to give me your jewels for safekeeping, lest they fly through my fingers. Let me confess: I trust the world. It is a weakness of mine. I trust its rickety bridges, quicksand, hail storms and hurricanes,  I trust its dogmatic politicians, daunting bureaucracies and dreariness. And by trust I mean praise, and by praise I mean see, and by see I mean feel them in me. Do you think I’m opinionated?  

Just for today say so to my face and I will, without spite, clasp your hand and thank you for the compliment. Our skin is bolstered by our bones. Our personality by our opinions. Without skeletons we would be amoeboid (no offense to our single-celled brethren,) and life would be fascinating in a different way. But in this present incarnation I treasure my tarsals and metacarpals, my clavicle, my occipital bone, and my opinions.  Just as one cannot produce onion soup without first having onions one cannot produce a change of opinion without first having an opinion. Evolution depends on alchemy. And alchemy some say depends on a very advanced change of opinion. You would call me unrepentant and rambling?

Such discernment on your part! I have spent far too much time pent to ever wish to re-pent. Like an origami crane I folded myself over myself in intricate and convoluted ways. Pressed all the inconvenient parts tightly together and tucked them out of sight. Until one day I came undone. Now I am very creased, not easily categorized, and I cannot stop singing. This glorious unraveling has rendered me loquacious and light-hearted. Today I haven’t the heart to chide anyone– not even myself. Is this irresponsible? I swear I can’t tell anymore. You say I’m flippant?

Ah, could you hold a moment? I must catch my breath. See how you’ve caught me off guard? How splendid! Now perhaps, the possibility of conversation. Had you caught me en garde all we would have is a duel. All those thrusts and parries, exciting at first (survival is a stimulating instinct,) but tiresome after a while, and on occasion downright tragic. Flippant you say? I see what you mean.

For so many years I took everything seriously. Then one day I stopped, and was surprised by my own buoyancy. Now I am untamed and unabashed. Self-propelling like a hummingbird. Given to flitting, and flights of fancy. Making up for lost time, and loath to shoulder much more than sunlight. Should slides of my feathers. Shall not cocks my head. I do not pretend to understand the ways of the world. I am lost in the woods that are lovely as touted. And dark. And deep. You are lost with me. And everyone else we know. And by lost I mean playing, and by playing I mean safe, and by safe I mean held, and by held I mean whole. And you are silent now. 

And so am I. 

Just for today. 

4 responses to “Just For Today

  • Jane

    Please don’t stop the flow of your writing these past several days Pavi as you are on a most wonderfully inviting roll and I am so happy to be rolling and frolicking and flitting and rambling with you. Thank you!

  • vaishali

    totally agree with Jane. just don’t disappear on us Pavithra.

  • Sara

    came here to say the same thing. the roll is rolling, may she roll! this poem somehow is the one that inspired the thought of, wouldn’t it be lovely to have my favorite of Pavi’s poetry in print, in my hands?! a delightful feeling 🙂

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