The Natural World

A bodybuilder in a green vest
is a part of the natural world.

Also a damselfly in a subway car —
it is part of the natural world.

To be startled while underground
and thus to windmill one’s arms wildly

while emitting shrieks and wild cries
or to calmly catch a green flash

in a black plastic sack
and then to release it unharmed,

these are natural actions:
they belong to the natural world.

The natural world surrounds us,
but we can never see it entire.

You are part of nature as I
am a part of the natural world,

but we are not a part of one another,
except as we both belong

to the natural world. We relate
to one another as the bee

relates to the flower. We relate
to one another as waves

relate to the beach, sunlight
to the sidewalk, wind

to the cat’s whiskers. The bee
on the flower on the bluff above

the beach feels the waves coming in
through a sort of vibration

in the short hairs of its body.
The cat lounges in the entrance

to an alley. We wake up, dress,
then begin to make a day.

This sort of thing is natural.
I feel you out there somewhere,

acting the way you act and feeling
something as well. Though uncertain

what you are feeling, I know
it is part of the natural world.

It’s said, conversely, that the super-
natural is not a part of the natural world,

but rather some inexplicable force
that guides and shapes nature

according to an ideal agreement.
It hangs like a flimsy nightshirt

over the natural world. Though
not precisely. The supernatural

cannot be experienced
except obliquely. Encountered

in shadows, in dreams, it exists
outside of nature, on the other side

of the fence, just over the bluff,
around the bend in the road.

For some, it is the treat one gets
after finishing the natural world.

For others, to embrace the supernatural
is, by definition, to act naturally.

I like this second idea best.
We live our lives in nature,

where to define remains a natural act,
as definitions too are a considerable part

of the natural world. Consider shame
guilt or crushing despair. These

we often call “unnatural feelings”
and by so labeling them strive

to eliminate that undesirable
sense of wonder which singles out

some natural experience, a death
of a friend, say, or unexpected

failure, cancer, say, as being
so wholly beyond our mortal

comprehension we are obliged
to kneel in awe, often alone,

mute and frightened, simply
because we cannot understand.

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