Hypothetical Enigmas

Janus, Roman God, Doorkeeper of Time and Space
hat tip to revived writer for the google image!

A single leaf flutters across the neighbor’s yard. I see it through the reflection in the mirror facing me–the one that reveals the view through the bay window of my office. The breeze that set that leaf fluttering ceases. All is calm, but not bright as the dimming light yields to the growing afternoon shadows that stretch out across the neighborhood.

They are not so unlike the shadows of the past. And like two-headed Janus, the Roman God guarding the portal of time and space, I can gaze back at those shadows and catch the contours of what might-have-been.

In one other life, I trusted my distrust of the suburban administrator that betrayed me. I stayed at Kennedy, instead of leaving NYC schools for the enticing lure of a suburban, Rockland County school district. But what then? Did I learn the humility so necessary to stay effective in education? What of Kennedy’s inevitable closing?

In another life, I chose not to attend the centering prayer workshop that I made the Saturday after September 11, 2001. I never learned how to sit still and know that God is God by consenting to his presence and action. But what then? How did I sustain myself through the trials and tribulations of unemployment, a return to NYC teaching, the vicissitudes of raising a family under those circumstances?

I could ask Janus to show me the rest. But the deity remains stubbornly silent. There is no knowing with certainty what lies behind the door left unopened. All I can know for sure is that every decision that I made has brought me to the moment in which I stand. The next decision will bear me to the next one.

That is enough. It has to be.

first day

the lesson of kenosis

in the brook’s roar

a glimpse of a smile unseen

as I let myself go

Ramapo Reservation

for dVerse Poets Pub’s Poetics: Time and What If? (pubtended by Merril Smith)

with Real Toads’ the Tuesday Platform (imagined by Sanaa Rizvi)

Colleen’s 2019 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 117, “Poet’s Choice of Words”

45 replies »

  1. What an amazing new beginning, Frank. Our wisdom, trials & tribulations make us who we are. Our strength shows through our writing. Best wishes for a Blessed New Year. I didn’t get your email submission. That doesn’t mean that it’s not floating around the web… No worries. We will work out the kinks. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A Haibun of another color, buoyed by Tanka. A lovely what if slice of creativity. What if I had gone to Viet Nam and killed people rather than staying stateside as an office worker?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A great poem, Frank. One can only second guess, but never will know for sure what the path left untaken would have turned up. Own your choices and move forward … it is the only way we have!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Enjoyed your thoughtful reflection. We could only guess with what if and this part specially resonated with me: There is no knowing with certainty what lies behind the door left unopened.

    Love that brook’s roar and photo.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. SO much to like about this…..the image of the leaf set sail, the reference to Janus and the insight you share as well. All those “what if’s” in the end mean nothing as we are continually forced to make choices about the unknown each day.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A fun read, Frank. All the ‘what if’s’ and ‘what if not’s’ are ripe for the what might-have-been’s. My life would open much as yours, mostly it was the doors that open, did I take them or not. I left the space business minding the technicalities to teaching at a community college. A lot of stress with the taking of that open door.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I like the way you start with the single fluttering leaf, Frank, and end with the beautiful tanka about letting go. The opening paragraph really sets the scene, gives us your physical perspective before you look back on your ‘other lives’ and ‘might-have-beens’. Janus is a bit like Dickens’ ghost of Christmas past – he’s in that ‘glimpse of a smile unseen’.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Our lives are like that leaf blowing in the wind – similar paths – except we sometimes are the wind – other times freefalling or some such thing. Nice reflection for the new year.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is such a candid and well written response to the prompt. Life unfolding…fluttering with reactions…actions. Your ending here…in the prose and the poem…makes me think of the phrase “Let go let God.”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This begins with such a strange tilted perspective, seeing a single leaf reflected across a room, through a window, a small spot in a large yard, bringing focus to the Beautiful dance folded within the mystery of knowing, like the leaf, we must let go. I felt that the last line circles back to that leaf at the beginning, not in a time loop, but enfolded within itself, letting… self… go. A mystery contained in the structure, beautiful and poignant, we are all fluttering, but you flutter wonderfully here.

    Liked by 1 person

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