1. the comet passes
I knew him less than twenty-four
hours, if you count up the minutes. A rose, a flame, a
shooting star, haunting eyes of surpassing beauty.
Cannot the innocent survive our spiny soil? Must the
flame hollow itself in search of good? I never knew
what was behind the wide questing eyes a connection as
light as a leaf, brief as a hummingbird’s kiss.
The sun shone through his heart as clear as glass in
tones of rose and gold.
I hate the thickened skin we grow.
Each bruise leaving an emptiness where it’s hard
to feel. They say it's really a dirty snowball but we
prefer to cherish romance, the smudge of passing
brilliance that dazzles every eye.
2. the exit
We have the impulse to slow down
crane our necks as if at a car crash. We think we want
to affirm the reality, fix the point of exit. We think
we want to know but we don’t really want more
than a spilled purse, a footless shoe askew. A
bloodless detail tossed some distance from the
wreckage. Something on which to pin our imaginings. But
not enough to wake us in the night.
Touch the wound gently with the
tongue a missing wisdom tooth a dry socket red gel
seeping with questions, seeping with answers we don't
want to hear.
3. the memory
I did the same thing once in a
penny-ante way. I wasn't even going to be valedictorian
much less a Yale scholar or a Ford fellow. But I was
supposed to have talent I was supposed to be brilliant
and all I could think was how can I jump off this train
and be ordinary? No other way to live was conceivable I
didn't know how to say this is not the life I want.
Anything less was too mundane.
The seduction of success becomes
fear of failure, things coming easily at first but
faster and faster until you are so tired that all you
can think is how to get off. It's just you and the blur
that the ground has become the dangerous gravel
4. the lesson
As a mother to another my heart
breaks for you who kissed the tiny fingernails one at a
time and squeezed the chubby cheeks and stayed up and
worried as the voice changed. No one can know your
Hold our children lightly as a
bird's breath. They touch on our fingers just for a
moment on the way to lives of their own. Lightly. Lest
our dreams become their doom.
We cannot sculpt a man out of
light. It is shadow that holds our feet on the ground.