The Question That Eludes Us

The Question That Eludes Us prose poem

Photo by Hamed Saber

It’s not the answer but the question that eludes us
Leaving us no choice but to render an answer
Without knowing the reason
Like some sandy trail that the wind has obliterated
In a vast and infamous desert
Having nothing to do with relevance or cause or subsequent effect
For if one thing is true, then another must follow
And yet looking behind to catch a glimpse
Of the thing that follows, or I should say, the thing pursuing
There’s nothing but debris and the abandoned equipment
Of a doomed expedition scattered like crumbs of bread
From some decaying banquet of regal delights
That never quite materialized
This is the place, I’m almost sure, I’ve been before
Not so much a real one but a place nonetheless
Existing in the afterhours of solitude
Where I’ve seen a man thinking
Sitting in his filthy rags in the middle of nowhere
A place without past or future
No sun nor star nor points of interest
By which one might get his bearings
To make some sense of things
But only a featureless plane and an unbearably
Empty sky bleached white in the sun
Cloudless by day by night a pitch-black dome quizzically blank
Yet existing in some strange way devoid of meaning
And the man, eroding like a weathered marble headstone
Scanning the earth’s horizon for a sign
But all unsaid is left undone
As inwardly perplexed he rises from his perch and looking back
Hoping to see what might have been
Dissolves like a pillar of salt
If only there were a hint even just briefly
I say this without authority but better that than the silence
Ringing in the ears when trapped unawares
In the nets and snares embedded in the mind
From the very moment of self-consciousness
Confused and bemused in a maze abuzz with disconnected speculations
Misunderstanding everything that comes and goes or passes for reality
Then dropping out of sight like spots before the eyes
Before one has had a chance to get a fix on any one of them
Yes, that unquenchable silence, the one we most avoid
That drains us of our strength and dims our senses
Where a question mark hangs with nothing attached
And yet it still consumes us a little here, a little there
From one moment to the next in a cluttered space unoccupied
By any sort of credible evidence
Or rational means of shaping it into something recognizable
Wherein there may be a living soul fleshed out and breathing
A thing, they say which happens, emerging from the dust to speak to us
In search of what must first be posed for anything else to matter
For that one thing is all it means and the meaning of it all
As far as the eye can see – the great indecipherable answer to everything
For which no one knows the question
Hovering just beyond the cutting edge of perpetual ignorance
For one brief and shifting moment

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Bill Peeler

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My wife, Noy and I are Protestant missionaries in Cambodia. We met in a border refugee camp in Thailand back in 1979 while I was a refugee relief worker. She was a refugee. I lived and worked in Mairut Refugee Camp for three years. We have three grown kids. I was drafted into the Army in 1969, served in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971 and honorably discharged at the end of my military obligation. Writing prose and poetry is how I document the life I'm living and how I map out the mental landscape inside my head.
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2 Comments on "The Question That Eludes Us"

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Wow Bill this is some great poem in my eyes. You have explained all with such flair, wonderful.
Just goes to show we should life in the here and now and leave the question to float in the air.


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