But there comes a lift, a bluff of wind from the west,
an intimation. I have nothing to offer but this: a lull --
a softening -- that, and the discipline not to speak
when opportunity arises. Follow
the bunched extensors up the ulna,
the knob of the epicondyle, a well-known road
to fingers scarred with grief
and swollen with disappointment: fingers
that have brushed lips and drawn a thousand times
the Chinese character for “squander,”
fingers that hold a razor in the blue light
of mornings so far away that calendars
inspire silent rage. But hush. They walk
steadily, for all that, like a drunk
who can walk a straight line for the sheriff.
I'll be able to do massage up to the moment
I pitch face-forward in the grave.
But what, you asked, about the deeper
massage of the spirit? Those hungry ghosts
that have been hounding you
for more than twenty years? I have to stop at that,
And look at my enciphered hands.
What, indeed. My pockets come up empty.
If I had an old butterscotch
wrapped in cellophane, I'd offer it to you,
and you'd sit up
with the blankets around your shoulders
and we'd suddenly be best friends,
the last awake at the slumber party,
and tell each other secrets. We didn't want that much:
a kiss from that boy with the soulful eyes,
a word of encouragement from Mrs Tyler,
a ride on Evelyn's bike when it was new.
And I would sit on the floor, and
catch your dangling foot, and kiss
in passing the outside malleolus,
and hold your toes against my chest.
It's time, time that's the enemy,
time and wanting more. Just let this moment
linger. Faust was trying to cheat: he knew
that if ever we could want just this, just now,
we would vanish:
leaving God and Devil, empty handed,
gaping at the air.
(See more poems in this conversation in yesterday's Morning Porch comments.)