The Unnecessary


From the Archive

Adam Marian Pete, On the Way, 1994.

Karen Murai’s poem “The Unnecessary” appeared in our Spring 1990 issue

A shoe full of water left on a porch,
almost menacing like a swing
that begins to move by itself.
So unnecessary and yet you’d
hate to move it. It seems to
have a purpose, it snatches
from you something like open-
mouthed sleep. Though it’s really,
only, just sitting there
like a hand in a lap.
Funny how the unnecessary
can seem so important,
expanding, contracting,
cleaning itself. Whatever it is,
it won’t let us in. It folds
inside itself like a dying star,
in a way it’s superior, as
original as every murder.
You’d like to take it home somehow
and set it on a table, but
you collide with its intentions,
you’d tickle it to nothing.
Better just to walk by.
It’s an accident seen at a
distance, just a curl of smoke
high in the sky.
Walk up the steps and let the
screen door slam behind you.
It will be something you mention.