Lines to Keep
I came up with a near-perfect beginning of a poem last night,
Sitting on the inside of a grimy, bright bus
Watching the darkened streets fly by.
It might have been a line about the girl curled up and into herself
On a chair in the front window of the police station.
It might have been about the reflections in the bus windows,
About everyone seeing everyone without the burden of eye contact.
It might have been about a pharmacy,
Or about the festive lights that drape across the alleyways and squares;
Little shining stars ashamed to find themselves so close to Earth:
A string of half-hearted message cards dutifully reminding people
That this is the season to be kind to others.
But most people here can’t stand that thought,
So the lights turn into haunting annoyances — a voicemail on repeat-
That no one dares take down or take the time to understand.
It might have been a line about all those things combined,
It might have been the one defining line:
One defining line to fill the emptiness inside the cracks between my bones.
But, of course, I lost that line-
I lost the whole damn fishing pole at the same time,
Swallowed up by the unforgiving mouth of the realm of dreams.
It bubbled up and foamed and dribbled out of my mouth in my sleep,
For my fingers were too slow to let the blood-turned-ink run out of my
Nail beds and sink into a page, if only to be sealed up tight
And left recorded for the rest of my life.
I’ve said sorry to the muses of the written word,
And the goddesses of buses, fingers, pens, and sleep.
And since I’ve lost, in return,
I’ve written them a poem entitled:
Lines to Keep.