Just Walking Around: A Poem About the Sorcery of Relating to One Another
“Just Walking Around” can be read in full at the Poetry Archive https://bit.ly/2USfI2J
This poem starts off with the personal yet eternal question: What name do I have for you? This question could apply to both a person or a god. In fact, it kind of brings to the fore the infinite nature of a person in stripping them of their ability to be named. What name do I have for you? It’s an open-ended question that reverberates with the power of the person’s timelessness.
Then the narrator compares the person to stars. Yet the person addressed is bigger than stars which the narrator insists can be named while the person cannot be. Wow. That says so much with so little.
This statement of infiniteness is then contrasted with a casual phrase: “Just walking around” As if to underscore the crazy universe we live in in which an infinite creature can be found just walking around.
The narrator leaves us with Just walking around as a stake in the ground. A foot in the tangible while he proceeds to wind and wind his way “You always seem to be traveling in a circle” after all back to the profound, the eternal nature of this person
On a separate but parallel vein, the person being addressed is having their own contradictory experience with the infinite vs the tangible world. The addressee’s head is in the clouds and they are so focused on “the smudge in the back of their soul” that they wander around without much sense. Until they realize they are circling islands which the narrator mentions has mystery, and light, and food. Which he implores the addressee to recognize and engage with. Then he asks him to engage with himself if he is there.
This poem “Just walking around” underscores the magical nature of another human and the profound impact they have on our lives. The stars pale in comparison to the sorcery and splendor of another human’s presence.
When the narrator’s friend is distracted from the narrator’s company by the “smudge on his soul” he seems to take the narrator and in fact all humans for granted. He goes about his life as though looping through islands until he finds that a circle — the most engaging of shapes because it breeds focus and discovery– is the most efficient.
The narrator implores him to value the mystery and magic of life and in the process relate to another human being (himself) as part of the dramatic essence of it all.
Before this pandemic hit, we took other human beings for granted and socially distanced ourselves in an abstract manner by putting our culture of individualism front and center. Now, because we have to go without, we are like the narrator of this poem, imploring each other to engage.