reading a fragment of poetry by a much younger self

    We were trapped
    In that tyranny of touch. How you
    Amplified silence into
    Nothingness as your tears fell.
    In your eyes the myths have shattered
    And you tread on broken glass,
    Each word a shard
    To burst your bubble heart.
    -- (circa 1992)

How I long to reach back and put a fatherly arm
around that young man's still taut shoulders,
the unbruised strength of his limbs, as he weeps
earnest ink on white copier paper.

I would tell him that his love survived
its illusions, bloomed, if that's the word for it,
into something ampler, more rooted than tyranny.
If anything had died it was his futile innocence
in believing intimacy was shielded from loss,
could even begin without that first cleaving.

How quaint of youth to grouse of too much touch!
And so much needless terror, the raw power
of feeling and language ungarbed all at once.
Such melodrama, I would point out, in his lines;
such histronic diction - the sort of verse
he would later deride in others, regret in his own,
until he learns to feign a jaded, ironic detachment,
the kind often taken for gravity or wisdom.

I would make him a hot mug of cocoa, play
some light jazz on the stereo, instead of Chopin's
melancholic riffs, the brittle glass of his Nocturnes.
Tell him of our cats, the surrogate chaos
we breed at home, a life too ensconced to afford any
myth-breaking, the extravagance of passionate sorrow.

But I would let him write it all out, of course. No sense
in wasting a good bout of genuine heartbreak,
precious fodder for so much poetry, and scant enough
practice, as it is, for the griefs still to come.

09 November 2001   11:53 hours

happiness { } the business of writing