Runcible Spoon

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Who They Thought

I Was


Yes, breathe, as if your breaths are uncountable,

as if you have so many more breaths. Live on

between infancy and toddlerhood, between

rising virility and waning masculinity, between

parenthood and elderhood, between success and

failure. Live on between love and sex, between

marriage and divorce, Live on between freak

accidents, between winter and  spring, between

the fading light and the coming dark. Live on

as you are recaptured by the fairytales

you once read to your grandchildren.


Live on through love and loneliness,

between loss and connection, between

dark clouds and intermittent rain. Live on between

rumor and innuendo, the contradictory irreconcilable

stories told about you; your generosity and your selfishness,

your patience and your anger. Live on through the

difficult months, live on between novels and poems,

between numerical codes and text, between

and among the old chums, the dear friends, who are

dying, who you know are breathing their last breaths,

taking out their wallet to pay the last bill.


The day before, laughing as you continued

to read the poem from the bottom up, thinking

this way it would never end, the text becoming vague

and twisted, and the meaning, hah! --the meaning,

something about dying, but tricky, nuanced, as such,

as much about living, even as you die a little each day,

each cough, an avalanche that could cover you over,

the stub of the big toe darkening the entire nail

to jet black, where death lives, appearing after

each slip, each stumble, carrying the capacity to

slow you down, to bring your life to a crawl,

to remind you of the simplicity of breaking your

contract, the ease with which you could

step away and through—


All the while attempting to befriend every ache,

cajoling the sore leg to hurry along, the one eye

to stop dripping, as everyone looks away, not

wanting to engage your perceived sorrow.

What of the joy?-- the tiny rivulets of joy,

as real as the fake sorrow, still rising

to the brim, even as the taste buds fade,

you nibble and sip at all you can,

tasting it from memory.


Then one day you think you are sleeping,

still locked in your lifelong dream,

even as people gather from near and far

for one last look at who it was

they thought you were.