24th Birthday

Arches

Begin in a vacuum. Or: Approximate to the wasteland
six miles below you: Alaskan oceans, a picket of waterlogged air,
some volcanic landmass, dark and nameless.

Or, barring that: Approximate to where you are,
an airplane cabin in transpacific flight — Newark to Shanghai —
the longest exeunt in the modern world.

They’ve done the best they can for you; the cabin lights are dim,
window shades gird against the intrusion of sunrise, a blanket pulled to your nose,
eyeshades snug around your head. You drink apple juice
and go to the bathroom every ten minutes. You are cleaning yourself out,
you are practicing at pure liminality, and maybe you will get there,
before you arrive.

The past is a fire, and your brain made of shadow puppets,
and you dance the half-baked images of your day, year, and life
on the walls of your head. But what you really dream of is the future
that will soon inhabit you, that will fill you up, that will make you,
for once, cohere.

Soon, light returns like a half-remembered promise,
the air is cold and burnt and the taxi ride to your apartment
takes two hours instead of one — this you don’t mind.
If you had the darkness to prompt you, you would be dreaming of a
reality strong enough to tether you to yourself, but in the light
all you can think of is a bed, and heating, and the next time
you will leave it all behind.

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