It wasn’t that he wanted to take his life. He wanted to take his death into his own hands. There was a difference, he knew, though he couldn’t articulate it. More contemplative than suicidal, more curious than depressed, more interested than not, he didn’t want to talk to a therapist. He wanted to talk to Walt Whitman. He wanted to talk to his best friend from kindergarten, who’d moved away on the cusp of first grade, and he never saw him again. He wanted to climb a tree and sit up there all alone in the top branches watching it absorb the carbon dioxide. He had a bit of the tree in him himself. He had similar aspirations and spent much of his time in the branching ramifications in his head. But because his children would never be able to live it down, he climbed down from the tree in the car in the garage every time, and walked back into his life with a few leaves and twigs still sticking to his head.
In Praise of the Quitter
Praise the quitter for standing up for something more important than not giving up, something more worth fighting for than simply winning, or simply living, namely: seeing—that there is another way, a quiet, leaf-strewn way that leads off the battlefield and down through the trees to somewhere you can’t see from here, though he sees it, the way others see victory, and they stand up for the team, and they step up to the plate—he stands and steps lightly off the field and into the adjacent woods, walking softly down a path where the courtships of small animals go on in the leaves, and the birds are tunneling and darting up through the ramifications to the top branches, the best seats, where they look out over the fields of life. And what they see is not the games, not the people playing the games; what they see is what the quitter sees: a great sky and earth, and lots of little bugs swimming around for their dear short lives, which are shorter than an inning; half an inning; shorter than a swing. Praise the quitter flapping his tiny insect-wings— he is aerodynamically impossible, yet look at him go! swimming against the rules, swimming against the odds, up through the air and off into the sunset.
Paul Hostovsky’s poems have won a Pushcart Prize, the Muriel Craft Bailey Award from The Comstock Review, and chapbook contests from Grayson Books, Riverstone Press, Frank Cat Press, and Split Oak Press. He has two full-length collections, Bending the Notes(2008), and Dear Truth(2009). Visit his website at www.paulhostovsky.com