Looking back, it's something I've always had:
As a kid, it was a glass-floored elevator
I crouched at the bottom of, my eyes squinched tight,
Or staircase whose gaps I was afraid I'd slip through,
Fairy tales are full of impossible tasks:
Gather the chin hairs of a man-eating goat,
Or cross a sulphuric lake in a leaky boat,
The two of them stood in the middle water,
The current slipping away, quick and cold,
The sun slow at his zenith, sweating gold,
Once, in some sullen summer of father and daughter.
The mistake was light and easy in my hand,
A seed meant to be borne upon the wind.
I did not have to bury it or throw,
Sleep, she will not linger:
She turns her moon-cold shoulder.
With no ring on her finger,
You cannot hope to hold her.
You squeezed its leash in your fist,
It followed where you led:
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
Nodding its wooden head.
So long I have been carrying myself
Carefully, carefully, like a small child
With too much water in a real glass
I hate you,
How the children plead
At ﬁrst sight—
On the journey to the mundane afterlife,
You travel equipped to carry on your trade:
A bronze, small-toothed saw to make repairs,
The stylus and the ink pot and the scraper,
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night,
The swaying in darkness, the lovers like spoons?