Gnostic Spring, or That New York Times Article on Languishing

Erika Meitner

We have all stroked the face of God or
someone else lightly with our fingertips,

but making the mystery of the unseen
manifest didn’t help us with the ever-growing

vault of uncertainty we held inside our . . .
hearts is too cliché but whatever

replaced them at the start of the pandemic.
Online, a friend says it is always Tuesday,

which is accurate, and what does it mean
that time don’t mean a thing anymore?

Even if we pause. Even if we get low and
stay low, crouch like wrestlers facing

the shore trying to withstand regular
breaking waves or sometimes rip currents,

our horizontal bodies only buoyed gently
by salt and spit in sleep. I haven’t heard

from my friends in months—not even in dreams—
but I’ve collected tins of glistening sharks’ teeth,

held them in my palms, their sharp tips
unblunted by years tumbling in the wake.

In the wake of sadness. In the wake of
grief and loss. In the wake of any kind

of absence. The road is long. The ending
is predictable. The city burns or sinks. We

drink ourselves to death or just dissipate
into whatever is the opposite of breath: ash,

bone, humus. The computer tells me to exhale,
to come into better balance, but some days,

no matter how hard I try, I just can’t show up.
Some days my body is an actual error message,

or I live in the continuous present, which
is an envelope or sieve or vector for

the degree of always increasing disorder
in the system. I’ve met no apostles and

many heretics. Even before this, like every
good-enough mother, I suffered from an absence

of well-being, was never fully convinced
about the redemption of the human spirit.

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