The tears were different and never mind
how soft I kissed her, how hard
she leaned her head against
the fabled myth of shoulders. This time
when she cried it was like war.
Her eyes were wounds. Her trunk
trembled in the cold pooled rain
of a hole dug deeper than night. She
was a child again, and I thought
of the small battles of third grade,
the time when she came home
armed with the thought
that everything on earth was divisible
by two. I told her about fractions,
and I could see her feel the loss
of that pure fact she had displayed
like a diamond in her palm
because it was crystal and hers only.
Something to believe in was gone.
That day, not this, is when she learned
they always add another rule, another
angle, one more layer of complexity,
just when you think it's done. Nothing
is ever as solid as it seems. And
each new jewel you flaunt
to people you love, assuming
it to be the last pearl of knowledge,
that all learning ends there
and there will be nothing else
you don’t understand. The world
at last has what it needs to be
beautiful and whole. And
it happens again. All the geometry
she tried, the bending before Mary,
the slanted walks in the rain,
couldn't stop the reversal to what
I told her was not quite true.
She found out today. Some things
are simple, cut and dried. Some
things can be halved. There are
some things that have no remainder.
I do not remember balance,
I am scarecrow-still
as black birds torture my eyes,
sit on my head in defiance
of all sanity and rule
with my arms and their bending,
salvation from wicked wings,
stuffed and straight.
I never flew, did not ever want
to fly, never hoped to ever fly,
never even wanted to hope
to fly, but
I want to bend my arms again,
want to reach my fingers out
and feel them twitch and tremble
as they touch the skies
of your face.
I want to come to you oiled
when you call, inviting me
to share the motions and flight
of your bed and dreams,
and script secrets
that run and jump
and soar into the night.
I want no spokes, no stiff metal,
no corridors on wheels.
I want to protect more than corn.
©2008 by Patrick Carrington
Patrick Carrington is the author of Hard Blessings
(MSR Publishing, 2008), Thirst (Codhill, 2007), and Rise, Fall
and Acceptance (MSR Publishing, 2006), and is also the
winner of New Delta Review’s 2008 Matt Clark Prize and Yemassee’s Pocataligo Contest
in poetry. Recent poems appear or are forthcoming in
The Bellingham Review, Sycamore Review, West Branch, Harpur Palate,
American Literary Review, and Bellevue Literary Review.
He teaches creative writing in New Jersey,
and serves as the poetry editor of Mannequin Envy.