A little while ago—I think I was six—I burnt my finger on the woodstove for the first time.
I had a moment to observe myself before I remembered to cry. Didn’t learn much. Later,
A girl fell before me on the playground, and I saw a tearless truth reflected in her eyes
Before the habit caught up, with its matronly strident reminder to suffer.
One night, I fell into bed from the bottommost edge of the sky. There was a second there
Where I cut through the dream like it was the red wax encasing a block of cheese,
And I was nowhere. I was Dead, even—it was like sour cream with a hard taper piercing
Through the palette protecting my brain. Or maybe it was the rusty taste of blood; I must remember
Not to mix my metaphors, but it’s too much fun and easy, too.
I’m beginning to think that Art is just a term for the study of how to die well,
And how to live well; if I’m lucky, perhaps
I’m beginning to understand that the two are the same. Back and forth. These days,
I wonder where Sadness goes to once it dries up, like the cycle of water. That’s the newest
Plastic castle in the think tank. I’m told that these tears could be dinosaur piss.
Would that make them worth more? To me they’re already priceless,
To you, a penny’s worth. Einstein would have called that relativity,
But I think love is more quantum in nature, as one particle
Affects another in another space; becomes it, even, singling out
Like a tender index pressing its singed print against a mirror. Even if I’m wrong,
The truth remains past the glaze: a young taste lingering on the edge of a knife, there
For him willing to cut his tongue. Time passes, and my callous grows back.
Next fall I’ll wear it off stacking wood,
And wonder again at the freshness of the pain, before I notice the splinter.