The Riddle of the Sphynx
by Christine Adams Beckett
The vessel, the animator,
Beating the odds of never reaching
Darwinian traits have sustained
The fittest, the strongest
Leaving Modern Man a much greater chance
At achieving three-legged status.
He lives inside his head
Learning to honor the fleshy medium
With sanctity and honor.
No longer burdened with rudimentary tasks
Of simply staying warm enough
To live to see Spring, he carries
Kettle bells, tricking his
Neuro-muscular system into thinking
They are buckets of milk
To nourish his children.
While still on two feet, he will
Strengthen his arms enough to earn
Love from his burdened wife,
Prolong his two-legged status
And trick the sphinx into
Our fathers were unable to achieve emotional
Two-legged status. In fighting the Winter
They protected their hearts against
Inevitable loss, ignorant suffering.
Their children are recognizing that each generation
Is one more removed from four legs,
Basking in Spring’s warmth,
With the luxury of idle time
In a car, on a train, far away
From making their own shelter,
Growing their own food,
Long enough to look up
And recognize their brothers that
Clutch the dangling straps around them.
They rock with motion
And dream of emotional detachment
Understanding the static nature of
Being, loving without condition.
One father blurts endearments to
No one in particular, everyone in attendance
Because he can. Another waits until
Three legs can no longer carry him.
A third just thanks a son for his love
Waiting until his memory imparts
The most useful of his expression:
“I did not learn it as well as you will.
Live in your heart and head
And you will outwit the Sphynx.”