by Thomas Davis
“There is no such thing,” he says. “We are emotional beings.
Our thoughts get wrapped into the brain’s primitive centers
and get confused with ego, flight and fight responses, love, hope,
the stuff that makes us human beings.”
“Hmmph!” the old woman replies.
“You’re getting old, old man.
You don’t even notice pretty young girls anymore.”
“Answer me then,” he says calmly. “Tell me about wisdom.”
“It’s like poetry,” she answers, smiling.
“You find in-between moments:
The flash of light off a burrow owl’s spotted wings
as sunrise first filters sunlight over the horizon.”
He was silent for a long time,
thinking about her answer.
“I thought wisdom was about human understanding,”
he says at last. “About coming to a point in life
when all the mysteries, death, war, love, the universe,
become acceptable past emotion and thought.”
“Acceptance comes from the flash of light,
the owl, the movement of wings,” she says.
“It comes from an old man and an old woman
on a winter Sunday afternoon sitting
in front of the living room’s windows while sun
shines on the parquet floor and warms the house.”
He smiles. “I would have thought it was
about puzzling out the light, owl, wings, sunlight, and warmth
and subscribing human understanding to them.”
She ponders, then smiles too.
“Perhaps a human moment,” she says.
“But the earth is already wise:
Ocean waves crash on black rocks, birds fly, dogs bark, trees grow,
and dinosaurs leave their bones in rocks.
That’s what we have. That’s what we are.”
“Who we are?” he asks sharply.
“No, what we are,” she says.
“Listen to your heart’s rhythm, how it beats in time to time,
how time passes into light glancing off a burrow owl’s wings,
in my eyes that look into your eyes
and the smiles lingering into old age.”
He shakes his head and laughs.
“Into human thought trying to make sense
of where light comes from.”
“While light is,” she says.
“While light is.”