Trouble with double-edginess, again,
was what you said-what was it?
How it cuts twice, analgesic and painful,
To make the antidote another poison?
Bones last pretty long compared to tissue,
if not numbers,
stones, or stars. But for flesh,
the numbers aren't all in,
keep failing to reveal what they could:
"I promise we will meet again someday,
long after dust's
reduced to warm dark matter;
something will happen that makes time
go away." At that point, the different
signs for cars and cows won't matter;
"airport" or "newspaper" interchange
with no embarrassment. What lets me let you
go is believing in promises I've forgotten
to make, can't break, don't have to remember
to know that they will come true.
It's what we've done, undoable as children,
uncountable priorities, agenda items through
which lines appear
as tasks are done, but nothing ever
drops off from the list. Look back to the start:
"Suck." "Defecate." "Bite Mom."
And earlier: "Grow eyeballs," "Start the heartbeat,"
"Replicate." In some way, the fog of mist
from snowthaw in midwinter,
the close community we've formed
through years throughout the city,
a left turn instead of a right,
the way a pen rolled off a table,
the sunlight you sat in a half an hour
tax week in 'eighty-two,
the old man who sold from a kiosk
by the gates, the twenty dollars
you found on Amsterdam or maybe Lenox,
a bloodspot on patchwork, the prayer shawl
where you hid the diamond ring,
the appointment that fell on a bank holiday,
a second cousin's birthday,
the keys to the car, the portable phone,
the Master lock left hanging
on the locker when you ran
to join the man and child,
the way it felt to be a child,
the way it felt to be,
the way you supposed it would feel
to be no longer
(putting a small blue pill on the tongue
that could no longer swallow,
and having to take it out again
from that mouth;
no help, no hope, no time to get better)-
coalesce, evaporate, but outline for a moment
a swirl of smoke, the signature of chaos
in patterns we can't recognize without an
intuition, prior knowledge of their
Why would I sell those
vases, my collection
since childhood, one blue pitcher
woven of translucent glass,
one with an inscription
dating it back to the Civil War?
Why do I travel with
breakables? It's time to go again,
throw it all in the suitcase,
drive the old Chevrolet over the icy bridge:
no one knows that you're not wearing clothes.
Why did I sign that contract with M.,
agreeing to write the research up, then die?
Thanks for helping me try to
convince him about how I'd
changed my mind once it was
done. It was scary when
he swung that gun around.
I had so much to live for.
I suppose we convinced him to
back off, though. My
number wasn't up.
I don't recall what
we said to him, but somehow
we calmed him down, then
I woke up, alone.
We need to talk,
to unload, not just down-:
we need to listen.
We have to aim pure air from
double-barrels. We have to
stand still while knives
fly through the cellar
up to sunny kitchens
where they help us process food.
So when I long for forgetfulness,
it matters how it's packaged
and how what I would keep remains
attached to what I lose.
Do laundry and the kids
outgrow the shirts before they're folded;
finish the dishes and die
of hunger for the long-lost cook.
We only have these instruments
to keep what happens with us.
We count on vision but aren't sure
the picture's running true;
we have to ask each other what
just happened, what's the score:
and Did you see that?
Did you say that?
Who knows what I said?
But I'm afraid that you can hear
me thinking, that you might
interpret my intention
in an unintended light.
Mind reading doesn't replay
with fidelity: a photo
of a triple play won't match
the same scene's video.
Without a voice it's hard to get
the tone, the pitch, just right.
Words, those amateurs, are up at bat.
There's nothing we can do
for it but trust them
to get wood on the leather,
run the circle,
watch the ball,
avoid the catcher's mitt,