A Lithuanian Proverb (sneak peek)


A Lithuanian Proverb


When your drop a glass of wine in Lithuania
or bump a porcelain knickknack, shattering it,
they say Kamatka lapotcha, coka pooya schmoo.
No.
I don’t remember the actual phrase at all,
but the meaning is to the effect that the earth—
reality—shifted around you, and you didn’t
notice
so naturally, you didn’t keep up; and it’s not
wholly your fault that the teapot or peanut dish
didn’t align with you and only exists in shards
now.
You and the world knock like misaligned gears.
The machine will right itself somehow—or
explode, destroying everything and leaving
nothing—
Kidding! Things hardly ever fly hysterically apart
that way. You might fall against an aquarium,
killing ten red fish, then slip on one and bang
noggins
with the magistrate you were trying to petition.
A different saying applies in that case to the effect
that earth has shaken you like a sled dog shakes
knots
into its harness, which makes it chafe, raising
a row of red sores under her haunch; and you
have to know she mustn’t run with tackle but
note
her slow healing and let her rest, or else
she could lose a leg. Now, if for reasons
of your own—whatever—you really need to
know
the truth, I made up the parts about the dog,
the aquarium and even knowing anything
about Lithuania, land of my ancestors—but
not
the part about how earth can shake you off.
I know I need this rest and that this
here invention salves a string of sore
notches.

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