There are no innocent people.
I have seen the future and it is unending
Neon ribbons of animus.
Jade stars litter the sky like rosary beads
Against black velvet, and absence defines
The boundaries of being. There,
Beneath exhaling dogwoods and magnolias
Tree frogs croak their complicity,
Illuminating the emptiness with sound.
Here, beside me, another woman stands
Gleaning shadowy meanings from the distant tarn;
The wake washes the bank, stroking it like a thigh.
Night descends. The mapless geography is revealed,
Branched promontories of terra infirma expose
The vacuum in which a life may be lived.
This malcontent offers me what she has
Been taught-a masked simper designed to obscure
From me what I long ago recognized in myself.
The web of her voice spirals away and extends
To enclose nothingness; she mutters that she is the hushed
Reminder at Sunday dinner not to tell the faggot joke.
And this feeling so long forgotten makes me gasp for air
To keep from crying. I know the rueful smile I manage is more pathetic
Than teeth-like cowries shells strung against the damp skin of her throat.
Separated from the flock, somewhere a black starling screams. I want her
To know that I, too, like a child have suffered atrocities in silence,
Then swallowed hard as I bore witness to my own attrition
Into the rank and file. I am the cynic unable to love
What has been lost. My eyes no longer flash
Unwilling to capture images my soul no longer records.
These superimposed images of the past, a history
Of superfluous lovers who exhumed while destroying
A vault of slow-burning memories which could not be relived.
But I do remember the awe and wonder
Of cupping in hand my first lover's breast and whispering
Her name over and over. Again and again, the starling screams.
The bemused fronds bow their heads for a closer listen
Unable to believe that they hear amid the soundless cries
The marbled square of set shoulders becoming round.
On the horizon, a quay just visible to the eye. Drawing near,
A pirogue splits the dark waters. The calyx that is my throat
Bears down, suppressing. I have seen the future, and it is.
I tell this woman that I do not know, but I have heard
That somewhere pineapples are a symbol of hospitality,
So surely her life must be the symbol for something.