Pat Hale

Recklessness: An Explication

To live on the verge of wrecking,
to put oneself into danger,
to endanger others without cause or notion
               (see also: selfishness);

to eat of unknown fruits 
and drink cloudy water
               (insert footnote here regarding
               the toxicity of some berries
               [cross-reference: Katniss Everdeen];
               with possible sidebar on 
               plastic water bottles as a source
               of world pollution
               [cross-reference: Greta Thunberg]);

to refuse to follow,
to refuse to stay,
to refuse to explain or say
anything cogent
               (cross-reference: stubbornness);

to let the fire reach the glass,
to test the heat 
and relish the pain
               (insert confession here about 
               hoping someone is watching
               and what’s the use of pain otherwise);

to invite danger and despair 
into one’s life,
and call it living
               (cross reference lengthy list
               of antonyms, starting with common sense);

to invite strangers in and offer them
your shoes, your shower, 
your mother’s pantry
               (how the little stones hurt your feet);

to accept dusty parcels 
and carry them across international borders
               (note: consider deleting previous two lines);

to cling to strangers
who think you are someone else
               (who are you anyway?);
to pretend to be someone else
and savor the disguise
               (same question);

to walk parapets, railings, overpasses,
railroad trestles;
               (note: possible sidebar on evolutionary
               benefit of the fear of heights);

to flirt with open windows
               (where are you now?);

to refuse help when offered,
to ask for help only if sure of refusal

Pat Hale is the author of the poetry collection, Seeing Them with My Eyes Closed, and the chapbook, Composition and Flight. Her work appears in many journals and several anthologies, including Forgotten Women, Railonama, Where Flowers Bloom: Poems of Elizabeth Park, Encore 2021 Prize Poems, and Waking Up to the Earth: Connecticut Poets in a Time of Global Climate Crisis. She has been awarded CALYX’s Lois Cranston Memorial Poetry Prize, the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize, and first prize in the Al Savard Poetry Competition. She lives in Connecticut, and serves on the board of directors for the Riverwood Poetry Series.