It seemed as if his words were a string that kept going around me, looping, tightening, after every line. Though the string was taut in general and even tighter at certain lines, I was still breathing, but gasping, but breathing.
Once I Claimed Sorrow
Once, I claimed sorrow greater than anyone else’s. The world
was as it is now. Corpses of children loaded into trucks
each day. Change only ever coming in narratives. Gas leaks.
Landslides. Of course a tornado matters more than the antiseptic
room of patients in the nursing ward. Of course it matters
what you’re dying of. Lupus, for example, is a word
no one wants on his gravestone. Better “bravery.”
Or a quote by some bearded European thinker, saying
all we are is people. See, the first thing I’ll do when someone I love
walks that beaten path is quarantine their closet.
Then smell a piece of clothing each day. While watching a sitcom.
Or while walking Belle, my dog, who uses scents to determine
who she loves. Let death never blind us. Disappearance
is always beautiful and flowers are always blooming.
If you cannot find it in you to tell that laughing child
swinging in the monkey bars to stop, perhaps you can save
an equal kindness for grown-ups. True, we are not children.
We are far more worn. Look how we lie: Once, my old man said
that the great earthquake in this country
probably swayed a daffodil continents away
in the perfect direction, creating a beauty that can fill
whatever fracture it made in our souls. Probably,
they are wrong. The deepest sorrows are not fractures.
They are holes within the body. But even still
earthquakes do happen in the context of flowers;
and flowers sometimes bloom in minefields.
Too much happiness can be treated by thinking
of the man in the coldest place on Earth.
And what can I say about sadness
apart from how I cannot have it all to myself.
The world has not changed, but now chances are
my sorrow is average. I am most important
only when starlight passes through my irises
after thousands of years of travel; and where I dispense it
may be the greatest ripple I can manage
in whatever sea we’ve been thrown in.
This is not a call to be humble. I do not mean
to empower anyone. This is just a prayer in its rawest form.
This is an instruction to befriend your executioner. Or no.
This is nothing but a howl. A cry. A gasp.