On the crest of the hesitating heart

What smile seizes the mouth of the hesitant penitent?

What unprecedented slowness in that smile?

What suppressed song in that smile?

And as much as gravity

As much as anticipation

As much flight as return.

What a smile!  We would call it provocative yes?

If in its double audacity, in its bright boldness

It were not so damn complete

And so absent

So as not to face anyone.

I ask it

“Where is it that you are leading me?”

“Where is it that you want me to go?”

Those words wait for me everywhere I turn

And after all my days of prison

All my days of quiet contemplation

After all the memories of my incarceration

Have slipped away like an unwelcome dream.

After all the days of work

After all nights of writing

After all the echoes of past laughter and tears

That have slipped away like a forbidden lover

In the early hours of the morning.

After all I hate and after all I admire

In this chain of change

Comes the refrain

“Is it you my cell-mate, my fellow prisoner?”

You who boasts that all those charming women in your life

Loved you too much.

Is this one of them now singing above my wretched grave?

For not one of my friends has understood me;

When I weep in church

They tell me “That’s life.”

Not one of my days on this earth

Holds my hand;

I wait in vain for what I dread most:


Not one of my nights has brought me peace;

A tenderness that holds me close,

A dram, a rose…

I cannot believe that that is all there is to life.

So I flee this compromising cemetery

So full of avoidable resurrections

Like parrots drunk on necromantic words

Their impervious tongues infatuated with the sounds

And taste of the fruits our demise.

The lie is the plaything that we must shatter

It is a garden where we change pace

And find a new place

To hide ourselves better.

Or where we might let out a cry

Just to be half-found.

Is it a mask?

No, for I am much fuller with it

And the lie has such resounding eyes.

Rather it is a footless vase, an amphora

That needs us to hold it up

No doubt its handles ate its feet.

It seems what carries us completes us

And the very moment that lifts us is so remarkable.


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