Frances Ruhlen McConnel
Twenty Metaphysical Questions


Does it warm the sun to warm us?
And that smile we put on the moon,
is it ironic, knowing that before us
it was merely a wrinkle in a hunk of rock
and now is again merely a wrinkle?

And what of the playfulness of clouds?
The curvaceousness of snow?
The ever-caressing fever of the seas?
Without us, who would talk of beauty?
who would take the weather to heart?

Does the rainbow have a theology
and, if so, are we gods or fellow worshipers?
Is the earth holding us tight?

Does fire love us for its taming at our hand,
having been scattered like fern spore
and then made immortal,
on earth as in the heavens?

Does air have a philosophy
to explain itself in our context--
something about the soul's breath
springing from body to body, generation
to generation, circling the world forever?

And also about dust, made fragrant
by death and the sloughing off of a million skins.

And the dialogue among the winds,
the calligraphy of lightning--
who but us offers an interpretation,
makes voices out of the thunderclaps?

Are we the meaning behind meaning? the child
holding hands with sunrise and sunset
lifting its feet to ride over the puddles?

In the dark and reach of the universe,
are we the one bright throb of need
making from these physics an intimate family,
so they can't be sorry, ever-can they?-
for whatever curse comes with these blessings.

And what of time, pulled out of shape and wadded up
like silly putty, then lengthened into the past;
spun around us like a hoop, rolled
madly forward, then boomeranged back
and hatched into a multitude of futures?

Could it perform its tricks without us
or would it go back to its tedious loop the loop:
summer, winter, birth, death?

And, oh, yes, what about the fountain,
the artesian spring, the seethe
around a volcanic vent in the depths of the Pacific-
the first Word and after that the other words?

Has God got anything else in his top hat
ready to spring out and, if so,
how many light years away is it,
and is that what He's doing now?