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On Certainty


We used to say that knowledge is of natural classes

And primordial elements, though one thought of fire,

Which moves, which grows when fed, whose red, alert desire

Sleeps with continuous breath beneath the morning ashes.

The child or primitive says it's living or something higher.


Yet even of individuals there are certainties.

Of facts which privilege our way of knowing there's no great list

Or argument stronger than the fact that we exist,

Our recognitions not with effort but with ease.

What's true of one is true of every Socrates.


So let our notions bind us, let Derrida's not bind him,

Lest in the emergency, we, too, be like the child

Who crouched in the closet, hiding, by a bad idea beguiled,

The reasonable notion that there the fire could not find him.


Anthony Lombardy



1994; originally printed in Sparrow.  Reprinted by permission
of the author.

by Grapholina

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