I wrote this in 2008 and was a recovered file after losing everything to a house fire.
Long, too long America
Traveling roads all even and peaceful you learn’d from joys
and prosperity only,
But now, ah now, to learn from crises of anguish, advancing,
grappling with direst fate and recoiling not
And now to conceive and show to the world what your
children en-masse really are…
sit with me
let me share my eternal afternoon—
long and frightful
I cannot tell you details
I allude to it in vague references—
the pain still and heavy as concrete or steel—
how to breach the gap left in my heart?
I have lost a son, a wife, a friend—an entire family
I am of many nations and my skin smells
of different continents
How the air filled with sparks shooting to the heavens
souls exited, leaving behind memories
that barnacle in my septum
histories whose ashes populate my tongue
shut off the news reports
say instead another prayer
sit, listen to me: I need respite
let me walk into the wilderness
let the autumn breeze cool my face
I do not vanish
I do not flinch
I do not give way
I simply merge into your everydayness
find comfort in your routine
and succor you when you run
shut the door
and nestle your face in your hands
time does not pass—when will it?
you breathe, you are ok once more, you exit
and smile as they greet you
The truth is, morning never comes
I am truncated between afternoon and sundown
and while others forget, I do not
I teach myself to find comfort in remembering:
my breath lengthens, my blood pulsates slower
and I am there:
in that silence, peace finally comes
I become omnipresent throughout the before and in this during
and in the later that I will become
I want to go far away:
I dream I become the Antarctic, nestling an endless ice shelf
It overwhelmed me
made my typing still
my jaw freeze shut, gums bleeding
made the ordinary swing of my arm precise, with intent:
as I buttoned, reached for my coffee, turned another page, shut the blinds.
For a while it was the only antidote to crying
until I would break down again, impotent under its heavy load;
it comes and goes at will, but mostly surprises me at night
makes me sit upright, search for sunlight behind the windows.
Take this burden, I cannot bear it any longer
let me instead fall asleep to my crying once more
I drew a line long ago I would not cross
a line of fear and anger and longing
a line so thick I buried my own within it, sacrosanct.
I would run barren into the brush
knowing where I had to stop: here, at this juncture;
and now, now I must cross it? Why now?
It would be like this never happened
that all of it was for nothing
I do not want to let go, I will not
I will stand alone, firm
Where will I find my resting place?
No practice I muster brings it
when it comes, it does so in waves
like the rest of them: unstoppable, unpredictable as sunshine
so when it does, I hold on to it
plead with it sweetly:
tell it of a place in my home I have made for it–fire burning
a bed carefully made, slippers, good light, and a good read, waiting.
I must let go, I must forgive
find myself, alone, at the mercy of this American wilderness
and like a pioneer of old, succumb to it
In order to let go
I barter my pain, draw another line
promise to manage it only to a certain depth.
I tidy up my longing, hold on to memories
package them away, turn the key, face the day.
The anger escapes, intangible, sneaking a peek when least expected
and I learn to forgive this much, only to this crossroad, one
that becomes multifarious, extending throughout time.
In the end, all is forgiven
peace arrests me, forcing me down unconscious:
for a precious moment I sleep stupefied and omniscient
IX. Manifest Destiny
I rise from this premature dusk of dust
certain that my quest will never end
that I must forge a path forward
that my strength outnumbers all of us.
Something within burns, effulgent
knowing that this new American wilderness
will surely offer resting places
that our steadfast faith from before will conquer this frontier as well
that the spirit that formed us stretches fearlessly across all time.
I rise, eyes resolute, an eternity of days before me