Compromise

Photo by Hilthart Pedersen via Unsplash

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Delighted to announce that three of my poems found a home in the fall issue of Watershed Review. A big thank you to Sarah Pape and her wonderful editorial team for taking in these word-children of mine!

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Compromise

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A flask empty of wine on the table.
The table wanting for food
in a house missing its people.
Things are meant to be filled
with other things.

The sky, empty of birds, has clouds,
at least. They carry no rain.
Far below, the earth is barren of life.
Metaphors—easy and flawed.
We use them to fill up the silence.

I’m that earth that cannot bear fruit.
You, the rain that never comes.

Doesn’t it all start up there, in the clouds,
with thunder and lightning—the gods
flinging boulders as big as mountains
over their shoulders, a game
between equals gradually turned to war?

We were never equals. I praised myself
for my wisdom, you, for being practical.
Foolish wisdom, careless
pragmatism. We are
destroyers of worlds, passing shadows
on a screen held by no one.
The gods have nothing to do with it.

Tell me how the new world begins.
Who are you now? Who am I?
Where’s the up or down
in this place, where my fingers comb
the darkness until it shines?

Our language has not been
invented yet, its syllables heaped
into swaying structures, images fractured
like limbs reaching for an embrace
that’s no longer there.

Or not there yet?

The night outside is filled with shifting
tectonic plates, continents rising
and falling, oceans carving new shores.
Here, the trees grow taller
than the colossal creatures lumbering by.
Here, volcanoes erupt
to create islands of silence.

This primeval world is already rushing
toward its conclusion, but backwards,
to a time when the planet was only
a speck of dust plunging
through nothingness.

And there you are, half-etched
on the canvas of another first dawn.
And here I am, walking toward you.
Things might never be filled
with other things, but they are
here for now, and that
is almost enough.

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First published in Watershed Review, Fall 2018

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