It isn’t madness but shame for wanting
and shame for not having what I want,
which is a kind of madness—drunk,
3 a.m., the stairwell too steep to climb.
The bed can wait. I go to the pool instead,
strip and step in, the smell of smoke and sweat
washing from hair and skin. The wet kiss:
his mouth pressed here, my neck, and there,
my chest—in the end—went nowhere.
Cars pass with coupled strangers. I wade.
The brick wall stretches into the sky,
the sky empty, save the constellations,
whose lives I love—yours most of all,
father of poets, whose lyre filled trees
and stones with awe, the lover torn to shreds
and thrown in to the river. Tonight,
you’re the swan, lost among pinholes of light,
your throat bitten by a black hole
that takes and takes and never fills. I kick,
stroke my tired arms to buoy this body.
It makes ring after perfect ring, but each one
breaks along the edge. You who never were,
did you look down on the world at last
and see that more won’t be enough? Not now.
Not ever. Want picks the human heart.
You’re the lie I won’t believe forever.
Blas Falconer, “To Orpheus” from A Question of Gravity and Light. Copyright © 2007 by Blas Falconer. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.
Source: A Question of Gravity and Light (University of Arizona Press, 2007)