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Long Beach, CA

On Clichés Becoming True

Poetry Blog

On Clichés Becoming True

Brandon Cook

On my math teacher’s desk in junior high there was a postcard standing sentry to remind us that “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey,” the first in a long kick-line of clichés we learned to dismiss along with all the veracity of romance novels
Either so clearly false (unenchanted wands waved to produce one last bit of sleep for us, the awakening ones)
Or truths so true they became trees to the proverbial forest of our heart’s unseeing wilderness

“Aim for the moon, if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”
“Sticks and stones will break your bones but words will never hurt you”
(until you start therapy, twenty years from now, and find they are all still inside you)
“God will never give you more than you can handle”
(no wonder so many people hate God)

Even with the true ones, you don’t know the truth until it’s true for you
And familiarity breeds contempt, so we overlook the closest truths to hand
Until we stumble into them and remember we read them on a poster back in high school

As when I cleaned my yard this afternoon and saw all the unscrupulous pieces of dirt,
Returned after last week’s good brooming
And the leaves fallen once again, the vines re-claiming aimless space,  
And I knew, as of a sudden seeing,
There will be no place in my life, no space in my yard, where it’s done
My backyard has become the metaphor I’ve denied, the cliché I’ve hid away, the fact revealed:
There is only journey

Yes, I feel it now in my bones, moving up my stomach with sobering sight, this revelation,
That I will not arrive
There is no destination except deeper down and real, where God is—
The arrival of letting go

And somehow, without wondering what else I could be doing or where else I could be besides here,
I put my hands on the rough-catching handle of the rake
The bristled top-hat of the broom (with its flakes of paint falling in a great irony, to be swept away)
And move the dirt that’s always returning, holding the rake with steady breaths, at peace, while another sort of irony snakes back upon itself
Finding me mindful for a moment, that  

The journey is an always-becoming-destination
A train station merging always with the tracks
A process so very close to place