With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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What bothers me is I know everyone
I know and love will die but I don’t know
that I will. When I was born, I got my name
from a man in Indonesia who got it
directly from God. If you say it over and over
it doesn’t help. Each woman I’ve had
and man and meal, each ride in a fast car,
each mistaken act of sex — the tattoos and
the carnival and the hayride, the wasted kiss
and the cigarette and the flame — each river
myself next to, the nervous breakdown
I had in a moving van across six states, the cliff
I found myself at the edge of
with the thought. All of this
and I am no closer to accepting death’s
salty unavoidable must.
I know God is inside things —
inside the heron, inside the lagoon
the heron wades into, inside the reeds
it rustles amongst for sleep, inside
the crane one town over, the wrecking ball
the crane swings into the oldest, most wounded
building — inside that building as it breaks.
I know that whether we die
into the red light of a new life or into the plain
dirt of sleep, sooner or later we come back.
We come back as the lover we should have met
when we were living but missed by a lifetime.
We come back as ourselves
as birds as bushes. We come back as jewelry
and eyes. We come back as revenge
a warring heart persuades its person to take.
We come back to write poetry.
I know there will always be war
the way I know I will never sail
into a lovemaking whole enough
to make me whole. I know that when you die,
I want to be there. When the planes come
and the explosions, and our gardens collect
yellow dust on their leaves, and the eaves
of our storefronts crumble, I want to be there.
When the sirens no longer wail
messages of false love out to the solitary hero
but beg everyone to run for the oceans and will our
backward — gills, fins, whatever it takes —
I want to be there. When the fires spread and rise
and the buildings fall and the fathers
and mothers scramble to decide which of their
they will save and does it matter
since we are heading, all of us,
into the Great Fire anyway? I want to be there
when the human heart freezes and the earth’s heart
mushrooms up and out and then,
like the ungraspable train of hope’s dark gown,
I want, in a rush of water and light and blue
feeling, to be, suddenly,
Laura Didyk’s poem “The Great Fire” is both encompassing and moving. Being exposed to such talent feels like an unearned gift.
Several pieces in the October 2006 issue made me cry. I wept through Dawn Paul’s short story “A Heart in Port” and Laura Didyk’s poem “The Great Fire.” My tears continued all the way through Maraya Cornell’s essay “The Button.” A great many of us are dealing with aging parents, which may cause us to question the current state of our own life and to consider our own eventual diminishment and death. These writers gave me the opportunity to at least temporarily shake off my stoicism and release some of the ache in my heart.