What was it like before the doctor got there? Till then, we were in the back seat of the warm dark bubble of the old Buick. We were where we'd never not been, no matter where we were. And when the doctor got there? Everything outside was in a rage of wind and sleet, we were children, brothers, safe in the back seat, for once not fighting, just listening, watching the storm. Weren't you afraid that something bad might happen? Our father held the wheel with just two fingers even though the car skidded and fishtailed and the chains clanged raggedly over ice and asphalt. Weren't you afraid at all? Dad sang for someone to fly him to the moon, to let him play among the stars, while Mom held up the lighter to another Marlboro. But when the doctor started speaking. . . The tip of the Marlboro was a bright red star. Her lips pursed and she released a ring of Saturn, which dissolved as we caught at it, as my dad sang Mars. When you realized what the doctor was saying. . . They were closer to the storm in the front seat. The high beams, weak as steam against the walled swirling, only illuminated what we couldn't see. When he described it, the tumor in the brain and what it meant. . . See, we were children. Then we weren't. Or my brother wasn't. He was driving now, he gripped the steering wheel with both hands and stared hard at the panicked wipers. What did you feel? Just sleet, the slick road, the car going way too fast, no brother beside me in the back seat, no singing father, no mother, no ring of Saturn to catch at as it floats.
Alan Shapiro - 1952-
From where I watch, there are no highest leaves, no leaves that don’t have over them more leaves impeding what they open up and out for, darkening downward as they feed on green diminishments, as if dark, if it still can darken, could be itself the light the darker leaves beneath are hungry for. From where I watch even the shade hungers And is hungered after—all along the chain past bark, root, leaf, ghost speck of leaf, microbial scrapings, and beyond them, flakes chipped off of flakes off of a now- no-longer anything sucked dry, unsifted and unsiftable into so fine a green even the dark shines through. What’s hunger but a hole to fill, gravity of a self- consuming self-proliferating blind and densely tangled maze of this from that, from this, somewhere inside of which a cry for mercy isn’t heard, or is, and the jaws shut, and the very dirt becomes the dirt of it.