A Poetic Escape

Because the swallows had departed from the cliff,
over and over,
the soft knives of their wings tasting the river mist as they
went wherever it is
they went, because
with the air free of their chatter we could hear ourselves
think, because the notes
we left in their holes, full of love and envy
and lament, were never answered and because we need
an earth with ears to hear the long dread
carpentry of history, and then, and so, and so,
and then, each bone nailed, wired, welded,
riveted, because we knew
the gods we loved were charismatic fictions, and because
the swallows had departed. 

Above is a poem from "Field Marks", a book of poetry by Canadian-poet Don McKay who resides in Beautiful British Columbia. Technically, I stole the book from a "take a book, leave a book" shelf in the Student Union Building. I took the book and I provided no reciprocation. I think the literature gods will forgive me; I had an intense yearning to escape reality for however long my imagination would allow.

There is only two weeks left of class before I will have completed my second semester of University. My motivation is at an all-time low, and my level of frustration has reached new heights.

Don McKay's poem, "Alibi", takes my mind on a journey to the Columbia Valley nestled on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains where I will be spending the 4 months of my summer. Breathing the pristine air of the valley, indulging in the natural beauty of the infamous West Coast mountains, and sauntering through the trails of the forest is all I can think of. Reading enchanting novels, engaging in outdoor yoga, late night star gazing and mid-day bird-watching. I am anxious for the opportunity to create dazzling art projects, to write extravagant short stories, and to listen to soulful music.

I am frustrated because it's 11:41pm and the library is full of stressed out students. Some have their heads resting on their desks and their eyes only faintly open. Some have their fingers madly pounding on computer keys while their eyes and their facial expressions tell me how uninterested they actually are. I've watched students get up and let out a deep sigh as they zip up their backpacks and call it a night.

I was just working through the assigned readings for my Ecosystems class when I read this from Lester Brown's article, "The Great Food Crisis of 2011" in the Earth Policy Institute. "Tonight, there will be 219,000 additional mouths to feed at the dinner table, and many of them will be greeted with empty plates. Another 219,000 will join us tomorrow night. At some point, this relentless growth begins to tax both the skills of farmers and the limits of the earth's land and water resources."

In terms of my irritation, I haven't a clue of a viable alternative. But I have to believe that this institutional education isn't the best way for things to be done. This sitting in front of a textbook or a computer. This 11:46pm library session until your eyes are so heavy that the fight to hold them open is as grave a challenge as any. This perpetual work load that leaves minimal time for pursuing external interests or hobbies. I cannot suggest a solution of any sort, but I just know that there must be something better out there.

So when I am ready to return to reality, when I have had a sufficient escape, I will abide by the "take a book, leave a book" policy. I will return a novel to the "Book Nook" so that it can provide an escape route for the next person who needs a break, the next person who decides to venture through it's pages.


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