All We Do Not Know

By: Elena Unger

This morning I listened to an interview 
with poet Ada Limón. She spoke about 
epiphanies and didactic endings
and how sometimes a poet must surrender 
to the discomfort of unknowing.
How sometimes it is best to listen 
to the world’s echoing heartbeat 
and remain a solemn observer 
rather than a sweating preacher.

There is a sanctity about the mountains 
that my roaring yet mortal mouth
will never capture. All around me, 
spirals of snow swirl toward the sky 
like steam escaping from a kettle.
I let them glide through my human hands, 
knowing I have been touched
by something bigger.

Ada’s words reminded me that it is okay 
to be small. Wisdom is an elusive thing; 
if I try to capture it and plaster it
onto sunlit windows
with an arsenal of made up metaphors, 
then maybe I am nature’s fool.
A balmy liar who extracts meaning 
from thoughtless swallows.

Her words reminded me that it is okay
to not know. To profess a cluelessness 
that runs deep in the ridges of your skin 
and runs wet like the rivers of your blood. 
When I looked out the window at lunch,
I saw a man huffing down the street
with an orange jacket and brown boots.
I tried to see him — the sway of his body
and the scowl on his face — rather than
the lessons he could teach. I didn’t know him. 
I do not know him.