Change, Poetry

On the Brink

freeway-lucas-marconnet

A string of taillights threading between shadow
trees of a ghost forest.
A mountain of dirt higher than the fire truck
ladder
can reach.
The remains of a wall. It fell against the sound
we cursed, the sound
that turned out to be
a lullaby
after all.

Round geese cling to a barren hillside.
Straw atop stripped soil
slipping into what’s left of a tangled, wet bowl.
In the parking lot
a disoriented beaver,
a fox
and a snapping turtle
so angry she’d rather die on the blacktop
than accept our assistance.

I close the curtains now
even in daytime.
Against the bright red noise,
a Target logo on a semi
a city bus wrapped in advertisements
for graduate degrees.
I try not to count
how many trees
there used to be.

You have a thing for butterflies, he says to me.
No one has ever said this to me.
You have a thing for butterflies.
She says this to me
a week later.
Something that did not exist in the world
has now been seconded.

It’s true, it turns out.
A handmade pillow, a piece of Pier 1 art.
Gemstone wings on the door knocker.
A metaphor we can all get behind.
A pure thing resting dormant within
and also something utterly other.
Both what is withering
right now
and what is on the brink
of flight.

Engine brakes. A recollection:
All the bills in my wallet,
counterfeit.
My son’s sudden tenor chuckle
and the heart emoji he sends
that I am not meant to see.

A string of lights.
A siren, another current
these currents no different than particles
of sand
churning atop the crest
of a wave.
Ascendant
just before the moment
of shattering.

I close the curtains now
against this red rush, the pulse.
We are veins in the same chrysalis,
overlapping and dissolving
into imaginal cells
each claiming our purpose,
each carrying our true first
next
name.

Even if we think them nameless.
The caravan turned back
carries a thrum, a lullaby, a breaking
open
promise.
And always on the brink of flight.

Twisting down the rearview mirror
so all that’s left of the stripped place
where they had clung
is shadows
of a reflection
through a window
receding.


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