Wednesday, July 25, 2007
PT: I Only Ask For Now
THE ONE WHO WOULD NOT GO
Grandfather William, Grandmother Thea, James, John Allen,
Lucy Elizabeth and Margaret Ann, everyone gone
with no goodbye from me, I come to you now out of this
pale self where your blood runs, from this slippery dark
where human vanities are wasted, where love and loss
justice, tears and joy are all that matter. Lifted
out of your ghostly twilight, know me your messenger:
I am the little one who waits, the little one
who sits behind locked closets,
in dusty corners where the fence has fallen
into weeds, where the door is shut,
where locks are strong and the keys are lost.
I wait for comets to break in to the place where I am,
for stars to fall, crackling like bonfires,
for the voices that say, finally, "Come out!
Come on out!"
I have never understood courage, never understood
brave men who crowded the crossed cemeteries
in Flanders, in Arlington, in Dresden, in Belfast,
in the Me Kong Delta, the heroes who dared
at Appomattox, at Verdun, at Da Nang and Hue,
the doughboys, yanks, leathernecks, the flyboys and tars
who said, "Kilroy was here," or "Damn the torpedoes,"
or "I shall return." But I have looked down
death's throat, and felt the vomit of fear rise
in my own. It is foul...I know...
I know the real heroes are also the ones
who would not go.
We are from different planets, the brave and I.
Love me now before I die. I am afraid of the dark.
Fill me, fill me with light, fill me with delight,
give me sons, let me feel a full womb, full breasts.
I am afraid to be alone. I am afraid of the dark.
Grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, brother,
lover, husband, friend, touch me now before I go.
Listen to the music of the heart that pumps my blood,
feel the red pulse of my life under the flesh
of my throat. Keep a clock ticking on the kitchen shelf,
keep a light burning in the hall...
I am afraid of the dark... I am afraid...
I do not ask perfection. I do not expect the impossible.
I celebrate breath, I celebrate lovemaking,
the tongue against the skin, I celebrate the sun's coming
and going, the turning of seasons, summer solstice,
autumn equinox, the penetration of comets across
the cosmos, the thrust of meteors.
I do not ask perfection-- no parables of virgins,
no apples without bruise, no unblemished lambs,
no ram in the thicket. I only ask
the possible. I only ask for Now...
(From my book In Willy's House. The little girl with her arms filled with catalogs for making paper dolls is my mother. Colorado, 1918.)