Song of Myself

by Ronald Wallace

after Issa

I think it’s enough just to sit and meditate, heedless

of the needs of others close to us and of

their perpetual demands that seem to sap the

strength from us. My doorway and the morning dew

are all I need to make my day, and that

is where I’ll plan to be. And if that marks

me misanthropic, if that threatens to end our

relationship, I say that is not my problem, closing

my door. Thoreau knew how to spend the day

alone with his peas and beans and ledgers, and we

can do the same. So much for the ties that bind.

“We must find our occasions in ourselves,”

said self-reliant Thoreau. And so I’m going to sing to

myself. And the birds. And you. And one or two others.

From For Dear Life, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015, page 31. Previously published in Ploughshares. Note that the last words of each line of the poem, read vertically from top to bottom, form a haiku by Issa. This form is known as a “golden shovel.” See also “After Bashō,” “And Yet,” and “Bellwether,        +