Say tomorrow doesn’t come.
Say the moon becomes an icy pit.
Say the sweet-gum tree is petrified.
Say the sun’s a foul black tire fire.
Say the owl’s eyes are pinpricks.
Say the raccoon’s a hot tar stain.
Say the shirt’s plastic ditch-litter.
Say the kitchen’s a cow’s corpse.
Say we never get to see it: bright
future, stuck like a bum star, never
coming close, never dazzling.
Say we never meet her. Never him.
Say we spend our last moments staring
at each other, hands knotted together,
clutching the dog, watching the sky burn.
Say, It doesn’t matter. Say, That would be
enough. Say you’d still want this: us alive,
right here, feeling lucky.
No matter how old you are,
it helps to be young
when you’re coming to life,
to be unfinished, a mysterious statement,
a journey from star to star.
So break out a box of Crayolas
and draw your family
looking uncomfortably away
from the you you’ve exchanged
for the mannequin
they named. You should
help clean up, but you’re so busy being afraid
to love or not
you're missing the fun of clothing yourself
in the embarrassment of life.
Frost your lids with midnight;
lid your heart with frost;
rub them all over, the hormones that regulate
the production of love
from karmic garbage dumps.
Turn yourself into
the real you
you can only discover
by being other.
Voila! You’re free.
Learn to love the awkward silence
you are going to be.
From The Future Is Trying to Tell Us Something: New and Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Joy Ladin. Used with the permission of the author.