May 5, 2009

Climbing the Air

Written by Leslie St. John

Read by Nic Sebastian

Who could help it — chalked hop-scotch
on the sidewalk, don’t we always jump?

Now I know elephants do not appear in clouds,
and no one puts messages in a bottle anymore,
but there was the massage: empty apartment,

tall ceilings, white walls, windowsill candles,
and across the pub table you did offer

a pot of gold at this end of the rainbow —
so who said yes to climbing pigmy oaks,
hanging up-side-down for pictures,

and climbing the air in playground swings
passing each other in opposite directions,

yes, to playing air-hockey left-handed,
yes, to skin and eyelashes and fingernails on skin?
I did. And you did. Even if the message reads,

No one ever wins; we’re always chasing a tail,
pretending to play fair, pretending love

is a possibility tangible as plastic pucks,
telling ourselves that this time will be
different. Last time I watched him smell

tomatoes in the garden: cupping his hands,
scooping the leaves like water to his face.
Last time those hands made me come,

last silences curved and hollow as a conch.
Hold it to your ear and hear God creating.

Didn’t we trust that voice once? So much
like a mother’s, shaping hope with the shape
of a mouth always moving yet also poised

to receive what we to had to offer,
a body for holding, a body for breathing

which wasn’t and somehow was enough,
is enough. It has been broken for you,
I have been broken for you. Will you part

your lips to receive me as the host
the morning we prepare breakfast?

I’ll brew coffee and you’ll harvest rosemary
for eggs. And in this communion, light
will play a game too: now you see me,

now you don’t. And we will believe
the other will emerge from a blind spot,

for a moment brilliant and glowing.