for To Shi Lynn
A monochrome blue-gray print of a fish scale roof,
The sky seems to disappear as it grows
But the expected wind only comes
As an aging smoker, in stumbles and gasps.
I can’t explain to anyone why I’m so sad.
Anything I point to as cause is not.
Anyone I blame is blameless.
There’s a circuit loose, or some kind of
Jam, if it turns out that the mind is
Just a machine after all.
I watched her from a distance.
Her walk was not inviting,
But fluid, economical, and majestic.
Complex circumstances having nothing
To do with me until the sequence ended,
When she read me and knew me,
Brought her into my house as a renter.
From the first I was happy
To just be in a room with her
To see her and know she was there
Though my interminable babble belied me.
No desire, no disrespect, no grasping.
Over time we grew closer.
Desire arose as a herd of elephants.
Grasping came as darkness and wind
Behind them. Handlers were absent.
I jumped on one’s back and grabbed its
Ears and it knelt to me. But the next one
Tried to throw me, so I jumped up and down on its head.
As I moved forward through the herd
They got stronger and harder to tame.
To reign in the old bull, I did a backflip
Off his tusks and faced him,
Put on an eyepatch and stared him down
With my look that can melt rock.
He still won’t kneel, but he’s stable.
Is this conflict the cause of my sadness or
Distraction from it so that the distance
From distraction back to sadness in the fall
Feels like a universe?
Because she loves me deeply,
Kalliope bestows both good and bad
To develop my insight and empathy.
She took more than half of my sight and
Just as a boring cutter takes good steel
With the rust and the scratches
To make an engine hum
She cut away parts of my brain
But endowed me with the power of song.
Long before my father erupted with pleasure
Between my mother’s welcoming legs
In an experience all animals worship as peak,
(Aphrodite so grips them in her girdle)
Kalliope practiced her craft on my eldest brother,
Greatest of poets. He taught her
To be more gentle and generous, so my eye,
Unlike his, can see the beauty
Whose source is the imagination
But which at times appears in the guise
Of a mortal woman with long dark hair.