I have finally gotten around to reading Kay Ryan:
A Certain Kind of Eden
It seems like you could, but
you can't go back and pull
the roots and runners and replant.
It's all too deep for that.
You've overprized intention,
have mistaken any bent you're given
for control. You thought you chose
the bean and chose the soil.
You even thought you abandoned
one or two gardens. But those things
keep growing where we put them--
if we put them at all.
A certain kind of Eden holds us thrall.
Even the one vine that tendrils out alone
in time turns on its own impulse,
twisting back down its upward course
a strong and then a stronger rope,
the greenest saddest strongest
kind of hope.
This poem spoke to me because of its message of belatedness, contingency, serendipity. We are born into gardens billions of years in the making, yet born also into some bizarre notion that we plant all anew. Yet that is the only way the garden progresses, through the pretense that every moment is pregant with infinite possibilities, not only for generation but for forgetting and "outgrowing." This is a counsel not for fatalism, but surely for circumspection and humility (and self-forgiveness).