Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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The world is more confusing without you in it. If you came back / and asked, What’d I miss? I’m not sure where I’d begin. / I think we might have finally ruined the oceans.
This morning I fell back / into deep snow / and dug myself into a snow angel. / Yeah. I didn’t tell anyone. I mean, / c’mon, right?
It must have been forty years ago, / my brother and sisters, our mom and dad, / gathered around the fat television / before our Saturday supper / to watch my skinny father / make the evening news.
We don’t take each other for granted, because we know we’re old. Sometimes when we’re bird-watching — field guides, binoculars — happy to be looking at egrets or green-winged teal, I think, One of us is going to die first.
These days I wake up tired / after hours skimming sleep’s / surface like a hungry bird, waiting. / They say it’s a fact of growing older, / to lose the skill for sleep infants / and teenagers effortlessly have.
On my way home from school / with a gang of friends / I would see him outside / one of the bars or diners / near the Journal Square station: / my uncle, rasping the price / of a shine to the passing crowd
We were warned not to complain — / plenty more temps they could call. / Warned, too, to avoid the break room / with its jailhouse camera / swiveling right outside the boss’s office, / his speakers playing only country.
And I didn’t say there is no philosophy of life that covers this / I didn’t say how am I supposed to breathe when you stop
Mouse angels I have called them, / terrifying and warm and mythical, / seeming almost terrified themselves, / skittering after the echoes of / their own voices homing in / on the smaller creatures of the night
In grad school I had a writing teacher who’d completely cream my essays. / Cross-outs and tracked changes. He took me at my word / when I said I wanted to get better.