“LYING IN THIS BOX”
Until I felt myself pulling away
as though I were sitting backwards
on a train, watching all the people
waiting for theirs, shrink and fade;
While mine carries me away to the next stop—
where I am getting off without my luggage
or even the suit I am dressed in,
let alone this itchy corsage.
I don’t believe in your God
but I believe in capitalizing His name,
for your sake, at least.
And I believe it has all been splendid. Everything.
The birthday cakes. The invitations. The ceremonies.
Spending an entire Sunday out of each year,
preparing taxes and writing checks to strangers.
Receipts in shoe boxes
and homework on the kitchen table.
Recipes written on note cards
and the ones I swore to memory.
Baseball cards and bubblegum.
Rubber bands on bike handles.
Skinned knees and sniffing cotton balls of Bactine.
Rings on fingers and the ones kept in closets
after her hand pulls away from mine.
Whatever led to this, I love—
and I pray ones who read this
It is the only thing here
worth committing yourself to
And then there is me, again,
resting inside my own gaze,
wondering if the people outside
can see me past this thick black glass,
past my own reflection I stare into,
and past this stiff pale pile of nobody;
Wearing such a somber grin
because he is finally departing
from the place I arrived,
not very long ago;
Not very long ago at all.
And yet it all seems such a distant memory now
while the train whistle blows
across a widening expanse of prairie;
Where I once played T-Ball,
wondering while holding the leather glove over my face—
and peeking out through the stitching,
“What is it going to be like, when I am dead?”
And then there is a pop fly—
and a mosquito on my neck.
“PAY ATTENTION, KID!”
And then there is nothing
in a dizzying sea of black, spiraling over me like the night.
Not a star in the sky. Not a light in the house.
And then there is the concerned look on my mother’s hazy face—
and my young body laying there in the wet green grass, tasting blood.
“THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL, KID!”
That coach was a real asshole, but he was right about everything—
and now here I am; My body laid in the wet green grass again.
And that train whistle blows—
Forever, pulling away;
Flattening pennies and blowing thick black smoke
while virgins get married and prostitutes inspire poetry—
all on the same dull, delving evening.