It’s life within a life of life cycles,
an identity of layers like nesting dolls
not always expertly fitted,
a change from this day to night to next.
It’s being on the job always, feet swollen,
pressing their ache against the floor,
eyes lit with congeniality, banish any pain with
that long-trained endurance,
and easy tolerance meant to welcome.
At home, time to mother-father,
kids whipped up with more need of love,
cat and dog taking turns begging,
all the dishes empty, then fuller, then empty.
When the home is still and the worker
leans into weariness, a bottle comes out.
Or maybe a lone soul is in search of more,
or less, so a corner stop, and the way
back home is easier.
The bottle of brilliance, glass brimming amber gold,
a luxury and necessity, dreamy, devastating.
That drug that frees, a harsh magic.
Cat and dog watch, eyes pretending sleep,
wary, bored, puzzled. The way drink lights up
a human, pills a dessert, powder sifted in…how this
softens then creases a face and a self into parts
like a map, pleasure to oblivion to dangerous lands
all in the span of unfolding.
They sleep, fitful.
They all slip under a deep sky that harbors
music strange and known,
and elegant branches capture stars
then part to release them to velvet belly of night,
and the beginnings of dawn just a shiver,
a pointed call in the distance,
as if calling to a beloved softly, urgently.
(So strangely, as I was writing the last lines last night, we got a terrible call.
I could not have known in the usual way. .So I am not revising again.
A granddaughter has died too young and hard. So I leave the poem as I wrote it.
I may not be writing next week. Though writing often saves me.
Grief cannot be spoken in this language today. Hold close those you love.)