You say it is waste—and you have a good case.
Your fire for life, for its wine on your tongue—
you’ve had to shut it down. Push it far beyond the
mines at your foundation to just keep breathing.
one – two three – out —
To forget yet keep the card catalog—that is the
torture that puts 40-watt light in your eyes, pushes
your blood forward, keeps it creeping toward your
you know you can never go back.
All the beautiful plays left unplayed—
bellowing risks simmered down into
a quiet poultice to be clapped on your
wounds at night—tiny battles of
five typed words won underwater
as the rest of the world sleeps, weightless.
This art kills you, you think.
You think it’s killing you cell by cell—
when you think about it—whenever
you see your vanished past leap
into the well backwards, on rewind,
to play out its phantom storylines.
And yet these shackles—
you believe it—breathing—
— in – one two – out —
are something else—not wings, not
some false coffer of visible wealth—
but roots, maybe, not just roots that tear
down to the heart of the earth unseen—
but roots, also, that crack the pavement
breath by hair’s breadth, planning to
overthrow a great wall, a great mountain
one day—in a second—splitting kingdoms
with wide boughs that stretch out to
welcome in every rare living thing
to come build its home.
then this art will turn
that corner on which destruction
is revealed to have strange design,
on which bitter pathways gnawed
by insect, fire, disease—will turn
into a labyrinth—a waterway—a
motherboard of wonder—a home—
and this time you will live—
and have being—
—and you will
finally lose the argument
that death had its way
in this longest of winters.