it's a glossy jigsaw, a crinkled-
itís the focused-eye of my life; sometimes
blurred from sudden motion, the abrupt
jerking of a head, or fingers
diving forward, to cover a lens.
laying out old photographs:
there's Mother, dead two years,
and the startling likeness of my son,
dated 1970. but it's me, aged maybe
fourteen. then me and my best friend,
as cadets, bellies against the
snow; our winter uniforms starkly,
darkly defined in black and white. in those
days, we always smiled like
idiots. and here's an open parachute
against a faded, pinkish sky. it's not mine.
the year it was taken, one cadet died,
his parachute simply never opened.
I still think, sometimes, about what
it would be like to rage, immobile,
against death by gravity, only
half a minute away. we all feared
ignominious death. I don't remember
all that these imperfect prints
preserve. that's what they're here for,
I suppose. but I have to wonder
what pieces slipped through the
fragile net of lens and eye?
are there sunsets I have lost,
girls I have forgotten? trees that I
climbed for summers on end
only to bury them away with the years
and stare blankly at the stumps
that are left? to leave behind this
nonsense, this smattering and
scattering of colors and lines--
the shapes of my life-- is too little.
how can I make my footprints
larger? more defined? how can I
show you what monsters lurked around
each corner, at age five? or that seething
teenage resentment I thankfully lost?
the love for my wife is clear enough--
what of the anger? the bitterness, sometimes,
and the sudden shock when my older brother
died. and the prayers for my daughter,
the atheist-- these things I do not know
exactly how to show. no close up is
close enough; no panorama is wide
enough. there simply is no bridge
to cross this chasm that lies
between the world, and what's behind my eyes.
so eventually, I must sweep the arm
across the coverlet, and entomb these pretty
fragments once more. something will remain,
at least that will be there. and one day,
my kids can say they knew me.