Questions That Must Be Answered


The kind of question
that knocks at the door
and rattles the lock,
demanding a resolute answer
and never lifting a shoe
to shift its shadow off the step,
is simply doing its best
to bamboozle you
as well as block out the light.

There are two ways
to answer a question like that.
The first is to stand on tiptoe
and look over its shoulder
and politely mention the queue
of doubts, pleas,
contentions and objections
it has attracted behind it.
You will draw attention to the fact
that they stretch all the way
down the path
to the garden gate.

The other is more devious.
You invite the question in,
offer it the best chair,
pour it a drink,
ask it to wait just a moment,
then quietly
you slip out the back door.

from Fourteen Reasons for Writing (Hazard Press, 2001), © Kevin Ireland 2001, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archives (2004).

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