The Escape Artist
Of course you think of Houdini.
The dark chamber all around him
hollowed in water echo and the outward
heartbeat that takes up the whole space,
takes up your space and the envelope
of electric air above you. Forget him,
he is lost. He is the man in the dream
you never recognize.
Keep something for yourself.
The last breath. A flash of the woman
who sees you turn away when the lid
closes. There are reasons
to be delivered: the long road to the market,
a green carnival tent you’ve almost forgotten,
the tin, circular sound of a hub-cap
tracing the side of a road. Learn and remember
that the summer consumes us
even as we sleep and there is nothing
pure or exact or cruel in language.
There is more. There are taxi drivers
who search for their way by streetlights,
the women made-up into an evening
who laugh at a man who’s passed them,
who can’t find his way out of a crowded room—
and furthest away from even them, three boys
who’ve ridden their bikes down the street
holding summer’s last terrible syllable. Are you
the voice that sends them
all into sleep, the someone in the dream
they do not know?
Now is the time to understand
the movement of your own
senses, the smell of mornings locked
into the memory of grass, butter burning,
purple garlic flowers shedding their last
pollen, the smell of wheat fields before
you see them. Soured milk. The rough
edge of lilac. You are waiting for the miracle?
You are waiting for the slim
left hand, for the right hand, fingers
that find their own way out of cool
confinement. You are free.
From When the Moon Knows You're Wandering