Catholic Distance University

The Cheshire Cat

Robert MacArthur

The glint you glimpse may be the twilight sun
Between the shadow trees, or on the lawn
All unproportioned, where the wild winds run
Grotesquely. Or it may be me, all gone.
Beneath wide hedges, wider nothings yawn,
And nothing’s more nothing than I. I fear
Nothing. Nothing to see here, ma’am. Move on.
You see me smiling, but I am not here.

The behemoths are bumbling overhead.
The cockroaches are stirring in the wall.
They call it a party. I call it dead:
The music sours, the clawing colors crawl.
If you’ve some sense, and would evade it all;
The simplest way to hide is to go clear.
Take me. I’ve faded far too far to fall.
You see me smiling, but I am not here.

Material concerns give me no pause:
Like smoke I slide through fingers when they clutch
To smirk intangibly between your claws,
To gloat, on solid you and any such.
You cannot wound what is not there to touch.
You can’t ignore what is not there to hear.
Believe me, one cannot be gone too much.
You see me smiling, but I am not here.

My mirth is contextless. You cannot spell
The first word of my insubstantial mood.
I’m grimacing or grinning. You can’t tell;
Can’t rhyme or reason me, for ill or good.
In this world, where you can’t do as you should,
What can you do but grin and disappear?
Poem nonetheless, this is an empty wood.
You see me smiling, but I am not here.

Princess, take caution. If you don’t see me
Then best assume that I am very near.
But if I show my teeth, rest easily:
You see me smiling, but I am not here.

Robert MacArthur studies philosophy in the graduate program at Catholic University.

www.bringuptospeed.com