“vinum aegrum”

Being the poet
is an instinct
for survival.
It just sleeps there,
inside, like a spring,
waiting for a trigger.
Maybe, like the bottle,
it ferments in there—
rotting away the cork
if nobody gets thirsty?

I still remember writing
my first real metaphor.
It had something to do
with the broken pieces
of color glass in a kaleidoscope;
And how beautiful their pattern,
when held up to the light—
rotating and twisting— never unmoving.
And I thought, at eighteen,
that maybe my own heart,
broken into one hundred pieces, by then,
could be just as beautiful an invention
as the kaleidoscope, if I could just find
the right instrument to pour myself in.

I remember sharing this
with my anatomy teacher.
“You came up with this yourself,” she asked.
I did.
She told me I will go on to do great things.
And here I am,
still waiting to fulfill this promise
from a woman of science.
I worry, sometimes, that I will be appreciated
much more as a dash of vinegar,
than I ever could have been sipped as a Syrah.
Time rattles on.

narrative poem written on 10-19-2010 by: on mattkane.com
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