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Animals don’t worry

24 October 2010

The third poem that struck me in The Best American Poetry 2009 (see my first and second posts about this anthology) was Lance Larsen’s “Why do you keep putting animals in your poems?” I understand the title to be a question someone, or several people, must have asked him about his poems, and the poem itself to be his response to the question. Here’s one fragment from the poem:

Badgers rarely invent stories to make them sad
about their bodies. And the wrinkliest of Shar Peis
never dreams of ironing its face.

The rest of the poem continues this reminder that the world revolves without us in it, without our human input, and that sometimes we’d be better off just relaxing our shoulders and letting life happen as it will. Be more like animals, let them teach us how to live. I once read that humans are the only animals that worry. We worry about things that haven’t happened yet, and that might not happen at all. Worry is the fear of what hasn’t yet happened. Fear is simply a reaction to try to protect yourself from imminent danger. All animals fear, and they all have that animal instinct to protect themselves. But we are the only ones who spend time worrying about what might happen.

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