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There is the torch and the only thing
That will prevent us from using it
Is whether or not we can allow
Jellyfish in the otherwise
Crystalline surf. It would be easy
To dismiss this view as beautiful and walk away
Because it is buggy and we forgot
The spray, to cancel the conversation
Because its ease is perilous with conjunctions,
To not touch because the sky would
Separate from the sky and the mothership
Would fall through with a banner
Waving in a language we wouldn’t
Understand though the meaning is
As clear as these intercontinental
Contrails hatching mackerel sky
Saying we are full we are full
Of sound and fury, we are signifying
Nothing. Damned universal law.
Damned categorical imperative
Elbowing its way between my hands
And your face. The sparrows again
Exploding against windows
As a circle of men sitting outside
The cafe while away their intentions
With invisible motor tics they can’t
Even feel unless the right empire of light
Covers every last inch of them
And brings to the surface the names —
Those loves they chose
To stable. And there it is:
The choice — if only the metaphor
Were more complex if I could only
Adverb away my existence
And say what a remarkable Sunday
This is a perfect Sunday
And turn my breath to stone.
I’ve done it before, I spoke
The language of sweating cavern walls
And electric light. But I won’t go there again.
We are all and only our distances
And when we touch that is what we touch.
Our messy shelves. Our sullen privations
And overabundance of lemons.
Our grief, our mountains and fields
And rivers of grief. Our dismissals
And the love we ignore when we don’t run
After the sparrows because the sparrows
Will fly away. My sparrow, fly away if you have to
But know that I am coming.
I am low in the grass. I am burning
With patience. I am every song.
I know all the math in the shore
Says you shouldn’t but my distance
Is yours if you want it. And it is yours
If you don’t. Dandelions and honeysuckle
Surround me, the world’s ineluctable fire
Is looking right at me, and I am making my stand.
Source: Poetry (June 2014)