Poem of the month: After You

Each month, I post one of my best poems exclusively to my poetry patrons in Patreon. Among other benefits (more details here), they get the poem 90 days before I release it to the rest of the world.

Today is blog publication day for this poem, first written and posted three months ago, inspired by one of my daughter’s friends. She is the “I” in the poem.

It’s about pain and healing and the consolations of art and making.

I hope you enjoy.


After You

I pluck the splinters, 

mirror and glass,

from the piercings in my feet, 

and shins, 

and hands and limbs.

 

I wipe the blood, 

then line them up

and with a black hammer,

smash them, one and all

into tiny chips and flakes.

 

I glue them, then

jags indented, 

round and top 

into a rough sphere, 

leave overnight to set

add more again. 

 

Four days of work, daylight and dark,

with clear glass and opaque mirror

shavings glued together 

in blind silence

until they form a solid orb

twice as big and weighty

as a human head.

 

Now, with steel wool, I buff and polish, 

more hours unending, evening out the edges, 

till the surface shines, smooth and lustrous

and I am the proud possessor

of a cracked and gleaming moon.

 

All done, I add a chain

and next, with ladder placed 

dead center in the room,

I climb to the top, step by slow step,

my glimmering globe 

embraced by arms and chest. 

 

Looking into it, I catch sight of my face 

reflected, splinter-formed.

It makes me buckle. Teeter,

but I hold my fall

find hook and clasp the chain. 

There. It’s hung. 

 

I climb down. 

feet flat to floor, 

body already beginning to sway,

I line up the vinyl record, 

set it to spin its music,

connect the needle. 

A crackle, then it sings its 

siren call. I give myself up 

to the beat that once–

when we were each other’s all-in-all–

was ours. And shimmy now 

alone, in the shards of light 

thrown by my newmade disco ball.

 

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