I Don’t See Your Dogfish, Mary

A one-donut poem for Mary Oliver

No Mary, I don’t know what a smile means
but it would be a lie if you told me outright.

And is that what you mean? That a smile is a lie?
You sounded so cynical just then,
with your flickering and nails,
that I could believe it.

I could believe that you mean that
a smile dances a crime across the face
of the sea. That like your black sleeve
it covers so many things and only just
barely recedes. I could believe it
if that is what you mean.

I guess you want me to believe
that a smile could mean anything
and my cascading inclinations
on this day or that will be
the only way to know
whether a smile is a hopeless future
or an exploding discovery –
a waterfall of the sun.

I guess you want me to believe
that my tidal disposition is
the only way to know exactly which
kind of a smile is the story of my life
that you don’t want to hear.

You want me to believe that
that is how you can stand it
you can bear it
you can believe it
from me
the smile
no matter what it means.

As long as it doesn’t mean an easier world
because that would be a lie that I told you outright.
 

https://www.best-poems.net/mary_oliver/dogfish.html

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