I was told experience mattered.
This is a lie, at least when it comes to light.
I’ve drunk decades of it
and still I cannot describe the taste.
Let’s say the study is drenched in lemonade.
I have lived here for most of a year, writing or more
often not-writing. We have held each other
this room and I, through sweat &
dust, storm & gold, the strange
severance of sleep. My wife,
though she used it less, knew better.
She unrolled a curtain above the window
I had never seen, not the beaded rope near
the open, nor the grey lid waiting
to cover it: that day she added to my world
a new kind of fuzzy shame.
I thought I was present. I thought I knew
how to occupy a space. To understand it
intimately, if not possessively. I fear
to have not known one part is not to have
known it at all. The implications for my life
are too terrible to host given
my fondness for secrets, and forgetting.
We could all be strangers all the time.
My God, the joy of that. The terror.
We’re not ready to love each other that much.
I was told experience mattered, damn it.
How many years of looking do I really own?
How much of what is seen do we retain?
The myth of being observant haunts
the writer as reverence haunts the priest. Truly,
we don’t see more than the next person
or racoon: we invent detail in the face
of a staggering, overwhelming rejection of what is
or was right in front of us. At least I do.
The sun is streaming through this window. An awful line
yet now your gaze is diverted and I can try again
to drown, or hope, or weep. The sun
is 149.6 million kilometres away.
Is the light of the star the same as the star itself?
Put another way: are we what we say,
am I streaming into your skull or is it a clamber?
Imagine taking language as seriously as light:
hunting for speech-soaked apartments,
driving for hours to find a mouth
to lie under & be bronzed by metaphors,
a slick colloquial tongue, or where you knew
if you didn’t protect yourself from it,
it could fucking kill you. Imagine what we say
can travel across worlds to either give
or destroy a life. Here I refuse to provide
details of the slurs I live through
as a burst spleen, a monsoon, a knife in an iris
and so forth. Sometimes choosing not to see
is a survival tactic. Sometimes I am in love
with oblivion, the startlement of world
in the eyes of the rat scooting
across the neighbour’s fence outside,
or the blank circles of unrendered faces
making everyone both guest & ghost
no I won’t put my glasses on this life
all of it is a brilliant distraction
from the wound, O to be the light coming out
to love the room, to make clear what’s beyond it,
to invent a wife kind enough to reveal what I missed.