Perspectives on Self-Help

by Katherine Pisarro-Grant

To my fellow hypochondriacs – I am a sick man, I am a dying man.
I’ve had notice of my time to go and it’s approaching all too fast. How I wish
I had said no to that wretch who offered to read my fate. I scoffed at tea leaves, like
Everyone sane, but the dame, damn her, neglected to tell me she wasn’t a fake.
Sit. Drink. Wait. “Dragonfly, for shortness of life, chains, for suffering, and I’m sorry,”
She said, “to bear this bad news, but enjoy the next nine days.” That was nine days ago.
My many artery palpitations, knotting of guts, and ashening of skin –
Suddenly justified! Suddenly explained! My skeptical mom’ll eat her hat,
And I’ve taken on too many lovers, settled all my debts, released my regrets,
Taken to smoking a pack in each sitting, and guzzling ten shots at a time,

Or full jugs of wine. Come to think of it, today I was feeling utterly fine,
And how could the reader make out a dragonfly – or anything but vague squiggles –
And equate it to transience? The thinness of its clear propellers? The larval
Convalescence overwhelming the pie chart of its life? A bicycle could mean
Both opportunity and risk, a necktie upward mobility or a noose,
An ant a nuisance or skilled architect. Does the dragonfly say “Carpe diem”
Or “idiot’s furious, noisy tale, signifying nothing”? The more I write,
The closer I get to my Estimated Date of Expiration – yet I’m here.
Thanks to that quack I take my fretting back, and urge you, remember the dragonfly –
Think of life as a long adolescence prompting the short burst of light before night.

Katherine Pisarro-Grant studied English and Russian language and literature. Her favorite word for “ocean” is the Old English “whale-road.”