Wise Poets – Ron Padgett – The Center of Gravity

Ron Padgett (June 17, 1942)

The military Jeep was said
to have had a high center
of gravity, therefore
subject to tipping:
if you took a curve too fast
you might turn over.
A person with very short legs
has a low center of gravity
and will not tip over easily.
The ottoman likewise.
When a person is lying flat
he or she has the lowest center
of gravity possible, as does
a sheet of paper on a table.
People floating around
in outer space have little
or no center of gravity
because there’s not enough gravity
to have a center.
Gravidanza is the Italian word
for pregnancy, which sounds
more serious than the English word
and may remind us of sentences such as
“The situation is very grave.”
Every situation has gravity,
it’s a question of how much.
People too have gravity—
of manner, of morals, and of body.
It is good to have gravity
but not too much of it:
like a bag of cement,
you might not be able to move
around or make ethical distinctions.
But with too little of it
you are flighty, your feet
hardly touch the ground.
Though cement and flightiness
have their charms,
it’s better to find
your center of gravity
and have it be the place
you radiate out from.
Once I lay in bed ill, unable to move,
but in my head
I was flying and bouncing around.
But illness has no charm
and when it becomes very grave
your gravity edges toward
the most perfect center of gravity ever.