I’ve been waiting for a guidefor Virgil,
Dante, Jesus Christ, anyoneto take
my hand and show a path through these dark streets.
I’ve been thinking about the sensation
of touch, of another hand cupped in mine,
a hand not so worn by a rough-edged world,
softer, younger, maybe even my own
from thirty years ago. How would I look
at myself now from then? How would I feel?
I’ve been thinking about how I should feel
about my sister, about her birth cord
wrapped around her throat, choking forever,
about her solitary days at home.
I’ve been thinking about family, distance,
what life I might live out. About my death.
I’ve been thinking about thinking too much,
about rote movement as alternative,
just keeping myself going like a shark
that swims to breathe, evading conscious thought.
I step up from the desk and walk around,
but still can’t shed the stillness at the core.
I’ve been walking dark streets of memory,
waiting for a guide to show the way through
the gates of hell’s walled city, where shrapnel
litters the parade route and children test
sharp metal with their tongues, where sirens shriek
from dusk to daybreak, where my sister dwells.
I hadn’t been born when she tried to breathe.
I couldn’t have cut that cord. But the child
now holding my hand tugs at it with guilt.
I’ve been trying to find my mother’s ghost,
wanting to apologize to the air.
I’ve been trying to see what’s never there.
I’ve been thinking about my father’s stare
cutting across the table at breakfast
and boring his frustration and anger
straight into my sister’s face as she wiped
the tears that ran from her eyes like two streams,
moving one disintegrating tissue
from left eye to right, unable to stanch
the flow, my mother looking straight ahead
into the blank, silent space between them.
The streets are dark, as are the roads, the paths,
the trails, the untouched fields. I want a guide
to extend a hand, help me take a step
into the air, show me a sunset’s light
over the horizon, give me order.
Or, if not order, at least momentum.
If not a path through the woods, then movement.
If not a cure for the soul, then movement.
Just pure thoughtless movement, movement, movement.