Pretend to Know


No use to condemn people who pretend
to know
because that's all of us.
Only days ago I pretended to know—
with my liberal arts education—
what a photon is.
(I was trying to make sense
of an invisible radioactive beam of light
shooting down through the hollow
of my pelvis. It helps, somehow,
to pretend we understand hospitals
and what's being done to us).

I don't pretend to know why those three
red torches rise from the garden green
this morning. I know the wren
doesn't like me to stand
too near her nest,
but I don't pretend to know
how her urgency becomes sound.

Likewise a human scream
is undiscovered country.

You who pretend to know
don't know.

It is particularly offensive
when elected officials pretend
to understand—
or care for—
the morning's screams
coming from all directions.

when this person is scorned,
screams when this person scrounges
in the dumpster,
when these ones watch
while these ones drown.
(For unarmed men
shot in the back
while trying to flee
there is often no time
to scream).

No use to condemn people who pretend
to know.
Some answers may come
in time,

most won't. In the meantime
listen to the bloody scream.


About the Author

Daniel Dahlquist is a writer and a retired professor from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and you can read more of his work in his collection Slow Dancing in Carbondale