I dozed on the handball court in the noon’s non-shadow until it was hard to see anything
but the splotched sun –
a cut in the reel,
then the spliced imagination on screen between the actual scenes of my life
held in a locked room, all through summer.
Was that season artery or vein?
when the days stretched like Broadway,
& the nights undid our shirts –
the temperature so slight you could raise your arms in flight & feel nothing,
the body as air.
But there was also the need for hurt.
And dusk: a ghost of a boy tempted to feel his weight, to put his palm to the depth,
touch the pupil, the dead turbine
of god’s one good cataracted eye.
And the clouds throwing shadows on the reservoir until it was the color of Jason’s gun –
glean & black.
Sweat stains & thirst. The year of my first fight
& the pavement on my cheek like depression –
Devon at my back screaming get the fuck up. Blood on a leaf, one woman with child
at the shore, & the barges at our part of the Narrows
came back empty & singing
the way a dead tree creaks in the wind, sways in unison
among the rest.
A dream is the web without the spider,
the soft snap of rot – still so real to me, in a pristine ruin
like her shower & the fogged glass
where we split a Pabst in the morning, before work, hung-over, & trying to hold off
the day. The light doesn’t hit my windows until noon now,
& quick as a razor across a stale Philly, memory flares with autumn’s black leaves:
vanished cane-break: the pillars at the memorial
in Berlin, where I walked & she emerged & was gone in a peripheral & measured
descent – a minnow sky
& children with their elbows braced like a hen waiting to be clutched,
played there. Hid.
The city muffled their voices. The memorial muffles Berlin.
At a café table – even the dead are dying.
But the sky above my childhood home, edging down the hill, is a painting I carry, cast
in a cheap gold frame, to every room I’ve lived in since.
I came to art when I found myself in a dark wood, early in life,
because those years are like a house already sold, the furniture gone
& the new picture frames not yet nailed to the walls –
What remains: there were lives in those rooms & there are lives there no more, like this summer, when I drove past the summers spent
drinking in a Little League diamond, John in the distance
waving his phone to make trail marks in the outfield,
& Mike, next to me on the guitar, whose voice is still in the air there,
the way sometimes I believe
I’ve always been asleep on a long ride home.
Let the earth do what it will –
have me, spin the spokes until my memory fades to a ruthless spring.