They are out there somewhere still, three, sometimes four, figures and a dog who has long gone, gone past the snake on the path, gone past all the wounds of time, leaving snapshots of a good dog all the while the children howl full wind
They knew no shelter from the start
Miles of lonely nothing
No stones, bread crumbs, or birds to
Guide them back
Whether before or after the flock of cranes fly upstream at dusk, the moon catches its own face in the watercup waves
One three-quarter cameo dances into many
silvery-petalled-moons spun from the
Streaming coattails of a brooding sun
who has just
up the river bank, across the burnished rooftops, past the crayoned, arbitrary horizon
Good-bye he said, over broad, burning shoulders,
leaving me all this lovely
I leave the shower curtain on the living room floor and the little boy who does and does not resemble us takes it up, exclaiming, the periodic table! with the remains of his little boy voice.
Later, after forgetting and days of heavy gravity, I lift the curtain and pierce each hole again, arms growing heavy-diagonally, the way trees grow.
Admire the way they have been ordered each in their brightly colored boxes. Iron, gold, carbon, oxygen, and the exotic ones we seem to have conjured to fill up the empty places.
- There whether we see or not.
- Unchanged by our indifference.
- Three or more dimensional even if we only see them flat.
- Elements and symbols for when full words seem to be not enough
He speaks to us in parables.
Whether you cast back all the way to their respective birth announcements or race forward to their untimely deaths, my two friends share bits of biography, outsiders in a world full of the ambivalent. So it surprises me that it took so long to realize the next step in my own apparitional grief was to see them together at the table I told you about before…
In the unassuming kitchen of God
someone is in the kitchen with Dinah, someone is in thekitchen I kno-ooow!
“Tara” for “Dinah” and capitalize the “Someone” and you get the picture-
He talks beauty and parable
All tears wiped away.
Years ago a young man I knew asked me how he should treat his prom date. I told him to think about how he would want his sister to be treated. I meant protect.
This admonition came back to haunt me as I learned about many, many people who did not protect family members and strangers in situations of sexual vulnerability.
I asked myself what advice do you give?
Protect is a powerful word. It means if you are the older person, the person in authority, the soberer person, the bystander, it is your job to treat the child, the older person, the person who is not able to consent, or the person who is in your power as off limits sexually. It is your job to keep that person safe, no exceptions.
If you are the kind of person prone to sexual aggression, all this may seem toothless. But I don’t believe it is. I believe that you (whoever you are) really need to assume there is an interventionist God. One who makes no excuses for rape.
The lady in the picture is a fraction of her whole-a bit of glasses, hair like mine. Did she shape the assignment or was it the Wizard of Oz for freshman comp? I don’t know, but as with so many words shaped into injunctions it sticks in my craw–pick the one thing? Not a good thing? Not one among brothers? I suspect literary ambush, which then feels like literary paranoia, but I kick around/go into the weeds with this one thing-
You. You are the one thing. The voice in my head steadying my coward’s heart. My man, Jesus I tell Madeline about that universal division of time into before and after You.
Like if you believed in evolution it would be 50 billion, million zillion years BCE, and those sylphish, wispy 2000 after.
Let me just
Tag along after you