by Carol Westberg
It can never be satisfied, the mind, never.
— Wallace Stevens
Anxiety shows up again in the wrong shoes,
feet ablaze, her notorious fingers picking at scabs
long vanished from the surface of skin
once smooth as a cat’s eye but not from a psyche
so easily swayed by rumor of sun or storm,
wasps, lurid flames from neighbors and strangers,
rye bread in the oven or not, the way the girl
imagined the boy’s glance sized her up,
a huge balloon of disdain or praise rising white or red.
Tonight she sleeps but fitfully after falling mercifully
fast into nothing she can remember, waking
to the 3:00 a.m. glowing fluorescent green above
the bookshelf. How long, she wonders,
will books be made of paper, glue, and ink?
Carson, Rumi, Augustine, Brodsky, Cortazar —
her collection breathes no place else in the universe
like the wild library of anxieties she despairs
to enumerate. Why can’t she let go of the laundry,
the will, the family photos waiting a child’s lifetime
for her to sort. Not even she wants to read
her litany of undone chores as kindred packrats
exhaust our earth while millions of hungering souls
still can’t read themselves to sleep.