Riding the dizzy spell
I grip the wall to keep from falling.
You guide me to a solid place
hold me steady
searching my face
and something under it
how is your heart?
Déjà vu a tremor,
I plummet towards that passing glint
barely missing the glass.
In another lifetime in another home, I gripped a wooden post
beside the back door
as the world spun away, trying in vain to hold in place
one more day.
Soon the jackdaws had their way, picking off
family treasures to thread their nests:
The lamps. The piano.
The kitchen table with the little drawer
where he and I stored Yahtzee
and two decks of cards.
A moving truck came and drove me away
I hid a handful of trinkets from the carrion eaters.
They failed to make off with a favorite coffee mug.
Gleaming red, a calliope spinning around the rim.
Blue as a circus parrot. Yellow as spilled yolk.
This cup has a mate and I kept it too,
a simpler thing with a single thin stripe.
I tightened my grip on those fragments,
secreting away what precious little remained.
(My heart, you ask?)
All these years later,
when I serve tea, I offer the plain cup to my guests
and keep the rainbow for myself.
You see, everything ends, even this.
Our last gasp contained in that first glimpse.
When I say
baby, we have all the time in the world,
but you know too.
The blink this life allows us
is the only eternity
that matters. It spools out to forever,
what we make here.
We leave our traces
and squander our fortunes
same as everyone else.
As the spinning slows, you peel off our coats,
kick the snow from your inadequate shoes.
I wobble to the kitchen, turn on the kettle
As you pace and rattle
and thaw at last into the softness I ache
to unfurl around you.
Setting out the tea, I startle, noticing which mug finds its way to you
and which I hold,
my hands outpacing prudence
as involuntary as a pair of swallows
lifting in unison
from the eaves.
To that lip of rainbows, you put yours.
The place mine touched a few hundred times.
How is this heart?
Wingbeats and gust
and your question uncaging a secret
about what feeds the deep hunger,
and how to give away
exactly the thing we most want for ourselves.
When the spells break and we tip finally from this
maybe what reaches for us
is not some compass north, some certain place to fix the gaze
while the rest of the world bucks and churns
but instead the dizziness
This upending an offering,
pitching us into a current
which, in our blind panic,
we can’t know is moving exactly in the direction we need to go
the way a migration
turns back always
to where it has to end,
a place which also contains
the very origin of flight.
You will forget this moment.
Mint tea afloat in its pocket of mist,
the corner of the table where I set
what becomes yours
before you even know to ask
because the thing tapping itself toward light
The yes slips its tethers
and streaks skyward
as caution stands gaping
on the receding earth
holding the empty reins.