Falling Out of the Sky

 
You didn’t understand:
I wanted freedom; well didn’t I have it?
You demanded to know: Why all this beating of wings?

Not in words, but the way 
you stared at the floor
and nestled the cat to show

that you were capable of affection
but withheld it from me.
To you this was a question of loyalty.

Meanwhile, I was trapped in the slow-clicking memory
of my childhood, like an old video tape:
the tick of a clock, the sound of late afternoon.

At this time of year, there is no sunset,
just the deep carve of light that slowly melts away.
I told you I was leaving, which was easier

than allowing you to love me.
At first, it felt as if the sky
had been ripped off the earth, but then

I finally sensed my own existence and I was ravenous
for the world, driven outward like a bursting sap.
For weeks, I opened all the windows before I went to bed.

How glorious: the fragments of moon,
blue air and honey sun.
All that light on my face in the morning.

When the summer edged out, I shut the windows
and left.  The drive was long and the sky
was filled with rain like thick strokes of ink

I hurried down the freeway,
as if someone would be there
waiting for me. And the next thing I knew:

Wisconsin.  I dashed from the car,
pretending to run for cover, but secretly
praying for more and more rain.

Image

Cataclysm

I’m told this is a paradise
of snow and sea and starlight.
The mountains burst out from the loam
then tumble to the charcoal water
like a silent white explosion,
splitting through the citrus sky.
But its sound is swallowed in the vastness
like a whisper or a violent kiss.

I’ve heard there’s beauty in the bareness,
in the sparkling glacial graves.

The sun melts across the hills like nectar,
as dusk starts seeping through the trees.
But something holds me by the water,
underneath the lights in the sky that are stars,
stuck between fearing cataclysm
and wishing for it. Working towards it.

My Father is a Wolf

When wolves first meet up
they have a ritual
of smelling one other’s breath

One wolf will put his nose
to the mouth of another, asking
What have you been hunting?

The second wolf exhales
thick breath, hot with blood and sulfur
to explain, You can still smell the kill

But nothing tells this story quite as well
as a human.  My father took me
hunting every autumn

Crouched down in the forest
beside him, I felt the gravity of this genre,
the deepness of its roots

extending so far beyond men.
It was the sensation of soil
working its way

into the grooves of my skin,
the crunch of detritus underfoot.
It becomes a type of language, like a prayer

In college, I would later learn some theories
which suggest that the human kiss began
as a mouth-to-mouth greeting

like that of the wolf.
I knew this immediately to be true;
my father is a wolf.

Always quick and deliberate; gutting his animal
in perfect technique.  He taught me how
to split open the ribcage and reach inside—

you have to grab the heart and sever the moorings.
But still, there is a right way
and a wrong way
to kill an animal.

Image

Sunday in the Garden

I knew you would want
to talk about Kant or Descartes
or Hume again, how can I 
compete with them?
And this time
it's free will; you tell me
Physics doesn't leave
much room for choice--what if
everything has already been laid out?
                  I reach for a pastry,
taking the beignet
gently in my fingers, letting the sugar glaze
melt a little in the morning sun.
You lean back 
on your elbows and ask
me or the sky, what if it's all
               inevitable?
I polish off
the doughnut, licking
my fingers clean then rolling
up the cuffs of my jeans
That's called determinism, I say
and it haunts me.
You pause on that,
is there any other way?
Then you take my ankles
and swing my legs into your lap.
I lay back, shoulder blades
pressed flat into the grass
beneath the devstating canopy of clouds
and think about agency and freedom:
Chaos, I say
as if it's half a question. Spontaneity,
as if it's something
that I want very much
but am afraid to afraid to ask for.
You're holding my small pink feet
in your hands, everything about you,
unbearbly wistful.
                Which is worse?
Before I think too hard about it, I hear myself
answer: I don't care
as long as there is God.
What I mean
is I want both
freedom and meaning--
that's what we all want
don't we?
The things we can't ever seem
to get our hands on.