In the yard of my childhood home
there was a mature Jasmine shrub
beneath my window. On many mornings
I would arise from my private grief
with a deep yawn and breathe in
a sweet gulp of air that would rush
like rum down my throat and into
the center of me. This is love,
atoms discovering atoms.
I recall my first experience of infirmity.
It was like a dream, all vague shapes
and things that make no sense in retrospect.
An old man hobbled toward a casket.
There was silence but for the click of his cane.
He paid his respects, then turned. A solitary diamond
dripped from his eye and shattered in the grass,
so hard and so fragile. This is death,
atoms splitting into atoms.
I have lived as free as a fragrance on the wind,
as shackled to the earth as the vine that produced it.
May I confess in a poem what is forbidden us in prose?
I want the atoms you exhale, the cells of your skin,
the platelets in your blood. To open a door and find you
as alone as we are in dying. To touch my grief to yours.
To be a single gust of sweetness howling in the dark.