Michael Chitwood, “Take Comfort Where You Can”

Take Comfort Where You Can (from Poetry Magazine)
Michael Chitwood

Not for nothing
are we given at least as much
sense as God gave a goose,
which we have no access to, sensewise.
We don’t speak goose
nor recognize what body language
there may be in a body
which is mostly neck and dollop.
But down, now there is something
to build dreams on.
We have recourse
and in the morning the feathered snow
will have come and closed the roads.
Linger. Leave off.


“Neck and dollop:” this is the goose’s body, but the body has a language (“body language”), and our senses are at least as much. We imagine – is that another sense? We could say our imagination is the goose’s body: neck leading to “dollop,” a clump of the body that may be a head. The imagination may be as sense in the sense both are bodily: the mind that sees the truth is absent. The imagination constructs a world we interact and hope to interact with. But absent mind, one loses images, pictures, sketches; mental phenomena are not just propositions. “Language” and “no access to, sensewise” confirm that we are most emphatically not geese and cannot know them their peculiar way. Our loss is really our gain.

Then again, we were the ones who contemplated a goose. Hence, the question of the imagination was tied to the goose’s (our) sense. The conception of a problem does not necessarily imply a faculty or ability. Plenty of people have overactive imaginations that make them narrow-minded. Our speaker sees in the limitation of the body “something to build dreams on.” We are moved “down,” not flying as geese. Re-course means we embrace winter, not fly south. The “feathered snow” recalls the contents of our pillows; “come and closed the roads” is our dwelling. Maybe we wanted to fly away as geese do and see things from an all-encompassing perspective. But we fly another way. The imagination is not simply another active sense. It works best when we let it work, perhaps away from the bodily world: “Linger. Leave off.”

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