Ethics

by C.K. Williams

Much of what I wish for myself is patently unattainable,
yet it might be my most sincere and abiding desire—
that I live without contrivance, scheming or forethought.

By contrivance and scheming, I mean trying to be other
than I am; without forethought is wanting to live
impulsively, artlessly, with no intervention of will.

I want to act not because I’ve coerced myself to,
but because I’ll have responded from the part of myself
that precedes will, residing in intrinsic not projected virtue.

I have no wish to be good, or pure—inconceivable that—
but I wish not to have to consider who I am or might be
before I project myself into quandaries or conflicts.

All this that I crave, which I know my craving impedes,
this absurdity of which might diminish further who I am
and what I stand for, if that’s the term, to myself—

(can one stand for something to oneself? can one not?)—
I’ve never found a shred of evidence for in myself,
yet I observe it constantly, every day, in Catherine,

some large portion of my esteem for her surely consists
of my gratitude for her implausible generosity,
which permits someone like me to partake—(oh raptly)—

of her presence, and causes her unthinkingly to forgive
my having to struggle to evoke even a semblance
of what she so effortlessly, gorgeously, joyfully is.

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