Mysteries in a World That Thinks There Are None
Lately you’ve been dancing with all the other boys,
and by dancing I mean screwing, and by screwing
I mean holding hands and sharing secrets: ants bleed
when they’re hurt, plants are capable of intent—
will grow toward a support—and love is what happens
when a pronouncement of faith is answered
by the loins. Or: what makes soap lather? What makes
us fall out of love? With ourselves. With each other.
What do animals call themselves amongst themselves?
What do they call us? The gopher that lived outside
our apartment junior year, his huge eyes, brown,
unblinking through every winter storm, how we’d feed
him—her?—we never did know—despite the local
animal control office telling us not to, its body
so calm, its heart so disinterested—or alone—its feet
wet and cold like snow in ungloved hands.
Soap lathers because: two long chains of atoms,
one attracted to water and repelled by oil, one attracted
to oil and repelled by water. Running away from water,
running away from oil, they aggravate themselves
into bubbles—hyrdophobic, hydrophilic—smaller
than the air pockets between them. What’s between
them then floats on what’s not between them:
these years later I love my wife best. But most days
I remember you. Most days the nights are wound
in dreams. Most days I can’t tell the difference between
secrets and lies: brass doorknobs disinfect themselves
within eight hours and storks rarely ever give voice.
Or: to love is to obsess and to obsess is to clamor or yell
or think in the background a whistle means come here:
there’s a species of turtle that upon losing a flipper
will swim in circles for days until it can’t anymore
and dies from exhaustion. A meteor shower, a long
lost brother, something to hold onto at dusk when
the blinds open, the windows close: what do we fear itself?
We fear that creating the miracle of otherness within
ourselves will be the end of ourselves, that to embrace
the ocean underneath what keeps us, that shawl wrapped
around our shoulders, burning at the surface of life, will
make mysteries of us and our mysteries. Once I saw
a video of a leopard killing a monkey, eating her, then finding
the monkey’s infant in a nearby patch of overgrown grass.
The leopard coddled it, licked its head, tipped it over
like a doll, fell asleep by its side, ears alert. It’s a wonder
any of us sleep at night knowing what we know.