Monday, December 22, 2008

Voracious Appetite

"You are in heaven right now, and your only job is to play. Don't screw it up."

--- Virgil Provost

Waking up after midnight
as a child, and
piling into the impossibly large
Chevrolet Bel Air, going
I could not know
where. In those days we could still discover dirt
roads to lose our way on, places the
glare of self-obsession had not yet
destroyed, had not
polluted the perfect darkness of, roaring
white-noise hum,
electric Narcissus now
shackling us into our wholly

Past the deep glassy
mirror-skin of the frigid
Tomhannock Reservoir, piercing the
rusty sponge-needle silence of
pine-forested hills in their
grave darkness,--- thick, deafening, sound-
deadening mats --- we braked into
an open field alive with
the time-lapse symphony
of nuclear stars, and raised the
tripod of a nine-inch
reflecting telescope like
cosmic conquistadors raising a

Mount Suribachi flag,
asserting rule over
infinities that required
no passports.

Not what or who we are, but
what and who we aren't, a pure and undespoiled
otherness. The promiscuous moons of Jupiter.
Saturn’s rings so sharp they could
slice meat. The stark,
bone-white ridges of the Sea
of Tranquility, we were
jealous cosmic voyeurs in
hot pursuit of
some lunar occultation,
a little leg from Venus,
the spark-torched shower of
a self-immolating meteor;
for a child in an age almost entirely
pre-digital, nature's web extended
so far beyond everything
that was merely
world wide.

That was where we anchored
as a family, in the primal forces that hurtled on
waxed slats down snow-glazed

Berkshire ridges in
the wind-burned recesses of winter;
that hove white canvas sails on
rigid aluminum masts through
the Beaufort frills of storming
whitecaps, solar breath, and that
tattooed the night sky
with million-degree brilliance ---
Deneb, Vega, Altair, and an
avalanche of others---
my father could somehow always
navigate. Even now

when the neurological
Swiss cheese of his mind can no longer
find the way home from
around the nearest corner, even
now, sometimes
before his voracious
forgetfulness can interrupt,
"there's Jupe" will dart from his
unthinking tongue, as it did from
the man who always knew
exactly where
we were going
when I was young;
and for that split second
at least, may be,
I am, and he still

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