Tuesday, May 06, 2008

This failure to grasp


Après Operculum

I saw the boy from Operculum again,
same restaurant, again being fed by
his father except he wasn’t a boy of
twelve as I had supposed, but a man
of thirty-four perhaps, sat witherways
and coiled as a frayed strand of DNA
in a chair with wheels, headrest with
padded guides so he wouldn’t injure
himself. He looked at me as I walked
toward the glass door and we met eyes.
For a moment we considered one another,
regarded what neither of us could imagine
and I wanted to cry, to let tears right then
because sometimes it is all I can do, this
crying, this failure to grasp circumstance
or fate or luck or providence that places
some of us in silver cars or chrome chairs,
with legs that wilt, with legs that work, with
mouths that makes sounds we call language,
with mouths that requires other hands
to get the food through. So I thought of
this man, this boy, this man from that
previous poem wherein I used him as
a clumsy device of aside, some construct
utilized to confer depth to something that
hadn’t any, until it was later and Before
Sunrise dawned onscreen and now there’s
a train heading toward Vienna, two people
who are meeting for the first time, and a
scent of Europe floods my heart and I
remember a Swiss girl, remember the
manboy in the restaurant, and somehow
they overlap and I begin at last to do what
I needed to do before—weep weep weep—
bring red ruin to my eyes, rub them out with
tommygun tears and so I do and do and do,
until the weather slowly subsides inside and
the soft thunder retreats to echoes in the
distance and everything gets quiet enough
to write this through a smear of viscous salt
and the provenance that being human divines.

Joseph Gallo
May 6, 2008