i found a dragonfly last week on the sidewalk:
yellow and black.
i only took it because it was dead;
i only put it in a red cigar box beneath my bed,
and now i dream slip-knot dreams of water and wings,
of dragons who defied their curse to become
queens of the insect world.
we are working ourselves inward
in a spiral of funnel mazes,
winding down to the center
where all the sediment collects;
where all the patterns intersect
more symmetrically than the human face.
‘you look so young,’ a woman tells me,
‘like you haven’t let life really touch you,
really put her hands on you.’
for the first time, this isn’t a compliment.
i tell her how at twenty-nine i just
contemplated stealing for the first time —
because i’m piss-poor,
because i can’t bring myself to ask for another loan,
and because i just got robbed —
and it seems like the next natural
step in the cycle of things.
after all, we keep repeating each other
in predetermined overlaps,
the great wheel turning and turning —
hand over hand, year over year —
as rivers get moved around, and mountains slouch,
and stars burn out, and some thing is born
out of an egg, out of a wasteland, out of a distant planet.
how did we get into this very conversation?
we are suddenly two pieces of wood rubbing together.
i try to explain that if i stop for too long,
and just think, and just breathe,
i may not be able to pick up one more day —
to heave it up onto my shoulders.
a voice inside my head — i think it’s my mother’s — says:
‘why do you write so much about yourself? selfish, selfish.’
but it’s the one thing i’ve been given, mother;
it’s the one thing i think i know,
and even that comes into question at least once a day.
we move in wide angles one moment
and in narrow detours the next,
and the end result is a giant crop circle
signifying nothing but crushed grass and tired geometry.
but at least we are moving.
and at least a television can be quite useful, actually,
once un-plugged: a convex mirror, a plant stand,
something square to offset all the circles.
we lock arms and rock, back and forth, back and forth —
in the wind, in the sheddings, as our mothers push out
humanity one liquid cry at a time.
we are but one life, one chance at a touch,
one long hallway of doors — of green, of silver, of hush.
a fish caught, and then released.
all the islands of the world pieced back
together into this great continental puzzle.