‘In a restless world like this is’: A fairy coach’s take


After the disaster of 9/11, Charles Bernstein wrote a moving poem about the confusion that ensued, not just in the days but years that followed. The blurriness of reality is expressed in the opening lines: “Not long ago, or maybe I dreamt it/ Or made it up, or have suddenly lost/ Track of its train in the hocus pocus/ Of the dissolving days; no,” Without the knowledge that the poem was written in response to 9/11, I’d have read these lines as dream-like, as being in daze, as daydreaming caused by some unknown event important in the life of the poet. 

Following the same logic, I’d have read the closing lines as a wise reminder:

As far as you go
In one direction, all the further you’ll
Have to go on before the way back has
Become totally indivisible.

In other words, the further you move on your life’s path, the more you’ll have to strive to erase your tracks, i.e. your past, your “mistakes,” your life’s lessons picked up along the way. On the surface, it sounds simplistic: the longer or more intensely you’re involved in something, surely it’ll take you longer to deal with all the things you had to go through to get where you are now.
What strikes me is the message lurking beneath the surface. The longer we stay on our life’s path, the more entrenched we may become in our ways of being. We may know and follow our path so blindly that our tracks (leading onward and backward) might harden, along with our habits and ways of thinking; we might not even notice our rigidity (personality-wise). In our stubbornness and hardheadedness, we might as well contribute to creating the “restless world like this is.” So let’s always be mindful and ensure our path is flexible.


Karo Caran, the Rainbow Poetess, is a poet and a non/fiction writer. Her novel, "Breaking the silence: A story in paintings" focuses on the censorship of art and gay relationships in the postwar, communist Poland. Her poetry-based memoir, "Life in a Footnotes" will be published this summer.
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3 thoughts on “‘In a restless world like this is’: A fairy coach’s take

  1. This poem is, indeed, thought provoking, especially as you’ve introduced new ideas around it. I find the opening very beautiful, and of course would not have known it related to 9-11. As for the final portion, I’m wondering about the word “indivisible” – not separable, not able to be divided up… I see your interpretation. Might it also relate to the idea that the more time passes, the more our past experiences get woven into the totality of who we are? Maybe I cannot say, “I am a different person than before” – the whole of me includes the past and present, not to distinctly separated as I might think.

    I really like how your blogs bring me to some artistic beauty and also make me think. So glad to have you back, Karo!

  2. Lovely poem and wise words. Yes it is easy to get stuck in doing what we do thinking that the way we have always done is the way. It is a great reminder that disasters are often a warning or a shake up, to shift our path. Happy you are back Karo and hope you had a lovely time on your visit.

  3. “the more you’ll have to strive to erase your tracks, i.e. your past, your “mistakes,” your life’s lessons picked up along the way.” I don’t think we want to erase any of this! Yes, we need to look at it all and perhaps “reframe” what we made it mean about us but then who would we be without these things? I totally agree that we need to be mindful and ensure our path is flexible. Getting stuck in the rut we’ve created serves no one. Thanks for the great post!

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