By John Grey
PROMPT — Who am I today?
It was an escapade on my part:
a trip to a shrink in a fancy downtown office,
on the couch in the world’s whitest room,
in company with a ceramic Freud, children’s books,
and various testimonials pasted to the walls,
a great temple to superior knowledge, educated understanding,
whose hollowness made me shudder, as I confessed,
from the sunken stillness, all that was lost to me yet haunted still.
Not holding back, I described her face, the brow,
cheeks as delicate as diary pages,
the arc of her throat, exquisiteness of her back,
her lips, her waist, her legs, shamelessly blubbering,
rowing upstream against reality’s will,
condemned out of my own mouth, wearied by useless effort,
dumbfounded by how freaked out I sounded.
But then my mood changed. Demented, cuss-filled rants ensued,
suddenly interrupted by a burst into tears that shocked the stale air,
more for myself than any lost lover. I emerged from
this version of myself, no longer at her mercy: my first great epiphany.
I followed up with nights of hanging out
in the rooms of friends, curled up on a couch,
sipping wine, nibbling crackers, praying she didn’t show,
relieved to be stuck with just myself, over and over,
no longer ensnared in the bitterness of our breakup,
even took solitary walks, beyond the town, into the woods,
shaking off the hold love had on me, abandoned it to the past
where I wished the worst for it, using sentences so new
that I had myself convinced - and saplings suddenly
sprouted in the once bare earth, and wind flounced
the slender grass, and small creatures emerged
from the matted leaves of yesteryear, perked up
at my approach. Light had burst from flame
and each thing emerged from its depths and glowed brilliantly.
And I was already having my second epiphany -
there’s more to nature than human nature.
The third arrived with the world itself, disguised as morning,
peeking out of the unknowable font of all that is good for me,
boosting my long-term welfare, promising no more momentary
lapses like the glaze of dew or the shifting breezes, but a window
to eternity, and, ringed by fire, a vision emerging from with lush foliage
by a slithering stream, something moving in my direction,
shards of a shredded photograph piecing themselves back together,
someone familiar breaking the unstable columns of light into an eddy
of gleam and speckles, speaking in a tongue unbreeched by accusation,
in sounds comforting and light, like death making its comeback
as the living gift-wrapped, the days to come, with no voice of their own,
speaking of what was as though it always would be – in other words,
Amanda was knocking on my door.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sin Fronteras, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Plainsongs, Willard and Maple and Connecticut River Review.