Ruth Maus: The Thinker

A bronze well-muscled man sits chin in hand, alone, naked, and still.
Perhaps he’s in a reverie, perhaps bound in servility, it’s hard to tell.
Could be he’s framing philosophy with his hard-flogged, half-fogged brain
and that is a strain.

Through mists, misfires, and mirrors, the man cogitates to try
to snag some useful magic daring enough to wander by.
A predatory sticky tongue, like a hungry wide-cast net,
his mind pursues such knowing and occasionally he’ll get
a sparkling gem amongst the little birds and tangled strings,
to add to his collection of 'the meaning of all things,'
to hoard these salient wisdoms promising they’ll coalesce
into some Wow! enlightenment. Well . . . . more or less.

But the homeliness of ignorance has affixed to the man’s quest,
repelling easy answers to the questions he’s addressed.
So when he’s scorched his brain cells with a far-flung mental search,
gone through every oracle, hallucinogen, ivory tower, and church,
the thinker slowly devolves into helplessness and dread,
left hunched and waiting for – what? –
still holding up his head.

In a Paris museum garden sits this dumb and lovely creation
that cleverly Rodin produced to tease our rumination,
The Thinker prodding our thinking, keeping us guessing at all that he knows,
When maybe the thought that he’s thinking is,
“Where the hell did I leave my clothes?”