Tony Hoagland – The Third Dimension

Anthony Dey Hoagland (November 19, 1953 – October 23, 2018)

Though I have no children, sometimes I tell strangers about my
I tell them about her science project for school.
I tell them how badly my nerves were wrecked
from giving her driving lessons.

Koncallakos—the verb comes from the Sumerian;
it means “to conceal,” or “to be hidden.”
I just made that up, that thing about Sumerian.

Yet oddly enough, this is what makes people interesting.
When we say, “She is deep,” we mean that she is nine-tenths invisible.
To be out of sight is what makes a human human.
The hidden part is our third dimension.

In The Odyssey, when Odysseus meets Athena on the beach,
she is disguised as a shepherd boy, he as a wandering sailor.
It is a little theatre piece they stage for each other.

When she asks where he is from, he just starts making up lies.
He is so accustomed to deception,
for him it is like flexing a muscle.

I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea
to go through life hidden.
It must have been something I picked up while traveling.
Clearly it has something to do with self-protection.
I just have this preference for keeping the edges blurry.

“He held back what he knew,” says one translation from the Greek,
and “He crafted the tale to his advantage.”
“Cunning man,” says Athena—”You are a bottomless bag of tricks.”
It seems she has a bit of a crush on him.

Then Odysseus continues on his way,
taking the treacherous road to Ithaka;
dodging to the right and the left, still in his disguise;
skating along on his instincts—

the way a merchant keeps the most expensive merchandise
                                             out of reach under the counter;
the way a thief turns his face to one side
                                             to avoid the surveillance camera.