Friday, July 15, 2016

A Two, Two Zeros, a Two

"Camera obscuras, / too, were big that year"

How to     describe
A year?     Begin
With a     small break
A stress     fracture,

A pin     of light
Through a     cracked wall
Of bone,     of pain
Which is     always

In the     head. There.
Now you     can see
The whole    world, sharp,
Upside    down, if

The break     is small
Enough,     not too
Small. You    have to
Feel it.    You can't

Diffract     too much.
One night,     Windy
City,     July,
Two-oh     oh-two,

You fell     to ground.
Cement's     unkind
To glass     paste bones.
Your wrist     pained you.

You knew.     You lied
As you     lay there
Trying     to check
Which bones    were cracked,

Saying,    "I'm fine."
You got     back up
With a     problem,
How to     use your

Cane when     it was
Your best     wrist split
A small     piece. Now
You could     not walk

Without     support.
Somehow     you left
Hand leaned,     hobbling
Your way     up El

Stairs and     down, back
To your     borrowed
Sofa,     Southside.
The dawn     missed you

Behind     your draped
Window,     but when
At last     you rose,
Cradling     your sore

Wrist, you     saw it,
Startled     at first,
Unsure     what you
Were face     to face

With, what     you had
Read of     many
Times and     seen in
Pictures     but not

In its     native
Glory,     the dun
Yellowed     wall of
The room     glowing

With a     view of
The town     outside
Of you     and your
Concerns,     your wrist

Swollen     and stiff,
Your new     lover
Still in     covers,
Asleep     and quite

Unknown.     All new
Things, then.     All new
Risks that     you were
Taking.      The crack

In the     curtains
Was just     the right
Shaped size     to make
The rare     wonder,

The world     upside
Down in     detail
And full     color,
A bloom     on bare,

Stuccoed     insides.
"I am     Plato's
Cave," you     murmured,
Without     a trace

Of an     insight.
You groped     for your
Cane and     wobbled
Closer     to it

To squint.     Details
Of trees,     parked cars,
And split-     level
Houses     appeared

So much     richer
Being     fainter
Beings     than they
Ever were     when in

Full view.    The real
Is more     useful,
Less used,     you mused,
Than its     unreal

Sisters.     Love, you
Recalled,     was right
Beside     you now,
Within     your grasp

For the     first time
In years.     You were
Unsure.     You were
Still young     but bent,

Badly     bent, and
The one     falling
For you     had just
Seen you     fall down,

Seen how     quickly
Your world     could turn
Upside     down
And then     stagger

Up to      try once
More your     hand at
Moving     freely,
Almost     as if

You were     a real
Boy, not     pins, strings,
And cracked,     painted
Porcelain.     Would she

Think twice,     now she'd
Glimpsed your     wrong way
Tarot     and searched
Out her     future

In it?     You knew
It could     be bleak
For you,     short term,
For her,     long term.

The town     shimmered,
Faded,     and fled
From her     bare wall,
Briefly     tracing

A last,     upright
Version     of its
Picture     on her
Sleeping     shoulders

Before     it slipped
Off and     vanished.
Your wrist     taunted
You. The     torn drapes,

With their     sharp pins
Of gold     light now
Tracing     nothing
Magic,     also

Seemed     to suggest
It was     pure dream,
That dream     you spoke
Last night     before

You fell.     You were
So sure     you made
Her sure.     You showed
Her what     a dream

Could be.     Science
Could be    claimed for
Marvels,     marvels
Could be     science.

You were     so sure.
She was     entranced.
Then you     stumbled,
Humpty     Dumpty.

It was     the year
Of the     stolen
Girl they     never
Thought they     would find

Alive.     It was
The year     before
The war,     after
The black     towers fell.

Every     human
Thing     seemed
Hanging,     detailed
Upside     down. Then

Summer,     and you
Embraced     the pause
In the     meaning
Of things.     You taught

Human     beings
How they     became
Human.     Weren't you
Clever?     You fell

And fell,     not just
That once,     not just
For sex     and love
But for     falling

By each     method
You knew     you'd try,
And still     you stayed,
Colored,     detailed,

Picture     perfect,
Hanging     from your
Clever     answers
To the     riddle

You knew     could not
Be solved     by you.
What did    you mean?
What did     it mean?

It was     a poem
Someone     else wrote
Someone     who could
Draw so     well he

Could see     himself
As he     would look
In a     convex
Mirror,     that year

Was. One     of those
Tricks that     tell you
The way     things are
When you     can't fix

Them as     you see
Fit. You     weren't fit.
That was     the thing
You could     not fix.

Nor was     she fit,
Though you     didn't
Know it,     not yet.
She had     her own

Falling     to do.
You would     help her
Through the     years she
Needed     to make

Her fall     complete.
We all     need falls
We can't     complete
Ourselves.     We all

Hang the     wrong way,
Blood rushed,     woozy,
Waiting     for that
Someone     who will

Cut us     down. Pins
Portray     us in
Boxed-up    shadows,
Just right     in how

We are     just wrong.
Exact,     correct
Pictures     don't work
Without    mirrors

To tell     the right
Lies. Or     something
Like that.     That year
Mirrors     all lied

With joy.     They laughed,
Sparkled,     showed life
As full     of life,
If a     bit soft,

Dimly     colored,
At least    that's how
It felt     to you
At the     time. Cracks

Were there,     of course
To show     the facts
Mirrors     could flip,
Polish,     distort

But not     alter.
She was     lonely,
Jealous     of her
Sisters     with kids,

Partners,     jealous
Of her     exes
With or     without
Kids or     partners.

You were     lonely,
Conscious     of not
Being     worthy,
Being     crooked

As you     were since
You were.     Your lives
Tangled     quickly,
As fish     lines, lures

Dangling     from trees.
That was     the truth
Only     mirrors
Could put     to rights,

Could make     at least
Fairer     semblance
Of what     was said
About     the scene

It gave     you back
Of you     entwined
Until it     cracked.
Funny,    that. What

Projects     the light
In such     a way
A soul     can see
Truth in     the bone,

That stress     breaking
The green     stick branch
Slowly,     twisting
Until     it snaps

And drops     the trick
Of the     light down
Onto     hard ground,
Is not     the true

Thing in     itself
But the     true ghost,
Recalled.     After
That slight     wrist crack

You kept     yourself
Somehow     one piece,
While she,     falling
For you,     fell, fell,

Further,     further
Until     she dashed
Her head,     baby
Dreams and     jealous

Schemes and     all, down
On the     tiled floor
Of wards     and flats
Where no     one knew

Her real,     given
Name, nor     you, nor
That you     and she
Had once     dreamed in

The same     room but
Different     dreams, in
Which you,     pinned down
By a     pinholed

Image,     worried
About     your pain
And how     your tricks
Would hold,     hiding

It from     her long
Enough     she would
Not think     of you
In terms     of pain,

While she,     dreaming
Alone     in sheets
You'd left     to watch
The wall's     writing

In weird     signs, dreamed,
Maybe,     that she
Had found     the crack
In the     thin seam

Of things     that were,
To her,     always
Unfair.     Two dreams,
One light,     one dark,

One out,     one in.
That is     the way
Of these     pictured
Things. Not     real, not

Unreal.     That year,
At least,     those things
That would     distort
Dreams were     winning

The war     on dreams.
If you     trusted
Your dreams,     you would
Go mad,     yes, right,

But your     madness
Would be     correct.
The lost     girl would
Be found,    alive.

The paused     war would
Begin,     again.
The fall     you took
Would be     a tale

Only     you could
Tell and     even
You would     prefer
Not to.     You did

Nothing     to keep
Any     of this
From not     being
Any     of this.

By fall,     you were
Her man.     You both
Tried things     you thought
You would     never

Have to     try to
Be what    you thought
Would come     to you
As a     simple

Gift from     the way
Things ought     to be.
There was     a long
Drop still    ahead

For both     of you,
A long     drought for
Any     kind of
Honest     truth.

The truth     being
Never     honest,
This was     not all
Bad. For     you two,

The cracks     in things
Back then     were proof
You had     enjoyed
Candor     in all

Things. When     you walked
With her     down paths
In the     dark woods,
You could     count on

Something     such as
The time      you lay
Out of     sight or
The time      a child

Came up     the path
And called     "Mother!"
To her.      All signs
The truth     was nigh.

It gets     closer.
That's not     such a
Good thing.     Chinese
Whispers     are both

A game     and an
Insult.     Things change
Prayer; can't     change things.
When truth     comes close

You know     you will
Suffer.     You should.
You stood,     canyoned
Before     the dawn

That fall,     having
Driven     southwest
To the     north edge
Of the     grand crack

In the     mesas.
You woke     early,
Her now     pregnant,
Your wrist     long healed,

In the     dark of
A cold     cabin
No bright     vision
On that    black wall,

And you     drove out
To look     over
The edge     and see,
Just you     alone,

The two     of you,
No one     else there,
The light     rise up
Over the     flat lands

And then     slowly
Destroy     the stars,
Chase the     shadows
Out of     the deep

Wide and     ancient
Canyon's     cliffs and
Broken     pillars.
It was     the last

Time you     two were
So much     alone,
So much     in tune
With each     other.

Winter     would come
To find     you back
In the     city
Among     her kin,

All quick     to claim
Her proud     state their
Own joy.     She glowed
Then cracked     under

The strain.     It snowed
Christmas     Eve, and
In the     morning
You heard     her scrape

Shovel     over
The path     beside
The draped     window
Where in     summer

You had    stood and,
Dazed, watched,     amazed
How the      gold light
Turned the     pinned town

Upside     down on
The wall     that now
Was dark     and cold,
Christmas     morning.

Her child,     your child,
As it     happened,
Did not     arrive,
Never     happened.

But that     loss was
Later.     The year
Of small     things, cracks
And pins     of light

That lit    up walls
With scenes     and swelled
Bellies     with lives
And minds     with dreams

Bigger     than you
Or her,     that turned
The world     perfect,
Reversed,     had not

Faded     yet. She
Scraped the     sidewalk
Of snow     to keep
You from     falling.

It worked,     that day.
On New     Year's Eve
You both     stayed in
And went     to bed

Early,     thinking
Sleep was     peace but
Dreamed your     secret
Thread. Peace     is a

Full stop.

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