When I sing to you I am alone these days
and can't believe it, as if the stars
--while gazing up at them--just shut off.
I search out the one light, brightest light
in the night sky, but find
I cannot find it without weaker lights to guide me
like red tail-lights on a car up ahead
after midnight when I'm sleepy, that illustrate
how the highway curves,
curving to a hook, and maybe save my life
and it means nothing to me
because nothing has happened, not the faintest
glint of drama.
(Raining gently, the tarmac turns slick, moistened
to life with renewed residues;
I can sense it with my hands on the wheel,
the drops--not too heavy--
drumming off-time rhythms on the metal roof,
the metal surface like a skin tense and sweating
and the road empty now, there are so many
exits . . .)
Where is my family, both hearth and constellated trail of flicker
I have always followed to your word?
There, but mastered by fear of dark compulsions
and loathing atrocities committed in your name,
they hit the dimmer switch and extinguish themselves
whenever I sing your praises. . .
Who can blame them?
(I can't help but blame them.)
And anyway they are far from me
(farthest when they come to visit)--
I should be self-reliant, in my armchair
like Emerson reading by a single lamp;
I should not need them, finding in you
myself, little firebug needing no outlet,
my soft light blinking as I oxidize my aimless flight
to love, to the good,
even my glowing chemistry unnecessary now
in the ultimate light of day.
But what good would that do me?
With you, in you, perhaps others do not matter,
but this isn't heaven, and I cannot make a circle
all on my own--
Photon, luciferin, meteor: as I burn myself
to pieces, I only pray
let my sparking tail remain a moment longer
than our physics might allow,
some indication, however brief, that there continues
(amen) a path to follow.
From The World's Room by Joshua Weiner. Copyright © 2000 by Joshua Weiner. Reprinted with permission by The University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved.