Friday, August 2, 2019

Signs for Strangers

“Only a question can be trusted.”

This is a body
Now containing more than half
A century’s memories

Dancing and decomposing,
Changing partners, making room
For others, disappearing

In despite of the belief
Of mainstream cosmologists
That their calculations prove

Information’s never lost.
When men landed on the moon,
A six-year old boy

In an evangelical 
Family in New Jersey
That spent all other Sundays

On at least two services
Of hymns, prayers, and long sermons
In a white, cinderblock church

Sat all afternoon 
In front of a box
That flowed with shadows.

It was exciting to be 
Allowed to stay home from church,
Allowed to watch the TV.

It was overwhelmingly 
Boring. The shadows
Were blurry and made no sense,

All glare and pitch-black contrasts.
Men’s voices droned on and on.
The boy waited all day long.

This was important.
Something would happen,
Had to happen soon.

This body holds no
Memory of when
It was over, it happened.

Later memories
Saw the steps replayed 
Over and over again.

Maybe the boy that became 
This body had gone to bed,
Had fallen asleep

In front of the flickering.
Half a century later,
A motorcycle backfired

On a hairpin turn
In the regrown woods
Near the campsite of the man 

The boy had been, the exact
To the synchronized minute,

UTC, of the landing.
The man looked up at the trees.
Half a century,

And now a couple of weeks.
Last night, the man dreamed
Two astronauts arguing

About nothing on the moon,
And, in his dream, thought,
As if it were an insight,

“That’s what makes humans unique.
It’s not where we go.
It’s the signs that get us there,

The signs we leave for strangers.
It’s the arguing.”
One of the astronauts turned

A faceless visor to him,
The earth’s reflection swimming
Into its center, gleaming.

Despite airlessness,
The astronaut spoke to him.
“If you enjoyed this poem, why

Not read?”

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