Mindlessness: A Sonnet

I’m striving to be a little less present.
You need the attention of our group.
Your anxious eyes, urgent words convey a gripe;
They sketch a threat you’re sure is prescient.

But I’m counting syllables in my head,
Selecting words for a private longing,
Rehearsing anxieties—more than learning.
The staccato of your speech makes it hard

For me to keep my restless inward eye
Focused steadily on my lost past, my fears,
Or to freeze this mood in lasting phrases.
You, they, and we interrupt the flimsy I.

It’s a discipline to suggest attention
While indulging fully my own tension.

(Posted on the DC->Boston shuttle)

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About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.