I eat for the sake of tactile sensation,
imitating my own explanation of life.
The moon hastens into oblivion.
I am not simply a matter of making
myself think but of getting my mind to hide my
thoughts so that my private ideas grow
as unpredictable as a squall.
Whether I am awake or asleep I inhabit
a sea storm. Love is the art of ultimatum.
A man lives quietly or with a woman bouncing
around like a wave. Unlike respectability, impulse
is an honest master. The tasks of anger and lust
row against the current of better judgment
like the sickening need for fame. I want to hear
my voice as it is heard. My twin
is the sperm whale, who feeds on giant squid.
The sun shines through fathoms of green ocean.
I seek myself wherever I go,
hunting my prey through villages and cities
and countrysides, looking for the light
of the world.
The wind sucks the stench from a field
of potatoes rotten and ruined at the roots.
Sometimes I wonder whether I would
cross my name out of the dirt for a richer harvest
or a reunion of hands. The storm that washes
away the topsoil keeps its sound within me
deeper than pain driven home with a whip.
The sunlight gives my eyes a corrective bath.
The rain rocks all my reasons to live a gardened
life. All my homemade torture devices stick
my voice to a point of contention. I sacrifice
each of my dry hairs to watch the farm flood, to see
all my work go to waste. The chickens donÕt mind
the showers and the lightening. This is any other
barnyard day in which the violence of God
cools off the land.
I pride myself on the kin I have never met,
the judgment I have never made, the hands
I have never shaken. The wind that rocks
me through winter is cousin to my first wish.
My misery becomes son to every smile I see.
My skin colors a story of snow. My mind
is the shade and splendor of December occurring
to my town, to my pale and freckled face,
to the eyes that meet mine, relative and close.
I long to see myself in a crowd, my farmerÕs tan
growing old and wrinkled, all the other people
in town drifting in a standing sleep.
Myth is the way we enter life
and the way we leave it. It is the way
we settle our heads on pillows, the way
we file sincerity away with speculation,
so that all may see the smiles we try
to keep to ourselves. You unbutton
your dress in our bedroom, reaching
the end of yourself and the miles youÕve
traveled. I appreciate the way your breath
expands throughout space. You
occupy the whole house. Our home
is the take-home pay that purchases
souvenirs from each state.
All we do is concentrate on trinkets.
When we turn off the lights
and begin our careful descent—
you to your hut in the jungle, me to my
grandparentsÕ old farm—we know how
to get there. The destination always takes
us by surprise.
My diligence carries me through traffic,
through the glaring sunlight, past banks
in my familiar monotony.
I am a friend coming home to a house
that empties me. The den is dusty, rustic,
and remote, quiet as a lit candle. I enjoy
the space. The voice that speaks to me
measures its own color stolen
from the admission of my gaze. I am
what I always am, what I always meant
to be, the dust of another day covering
my footsteps, stirred up by other hours,
when I walked from room to room with a book
of names. Time passes and I am the only
one who knows it. Days come and go,
when snow covers the ground outside
my window, and the breeze wanders
like blame through the silent town. I trust
my ears when I hear nothing, knowing
I cannot forget.
© Joel Fry