for Doug Lang
They came here first in a car shaped like a heart
and now they depart as brilliant jazz musicians.
They arrived in full costume, rolling north
through a winter of neon.
Now I watch them leaving me
in a moonlight of falsettos.
They are singing goodbye to me in the echo chamber
and I am smiling at them from my king-size window.
You get the idea.
I was always making way for the others.
Now, like an intake of breath, I am beside myself.
They tell me that God is inside us and I tell them
our fathers' teeth were white with fear. The streets
that I used to see from my window have faded away.
The birds I used to hear in the trees have fallen
on evil days. The beautiful girls who used to wear skintight
silver foil now dress in ugly shoes with big square tongues.
And the immaculate boys in their red velour are old men
who rock their bodies back and forth in grief.
But I take comfort in a dreamlike kind of consciousness
in which every breath is like my last breath
and all my friends are quiet as brides
skirting along on sheets of ice.
[from The Great Indoors, Story Line Press, 1995]
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