Monday, March 10, 2014

Poem: "The Cost of Focus"

"The Cost of Focus"

Your mind was a tornado
that sucked in anything
it could grasp –
the cornflower voices
of children screaming,
the tart raspberry taste of
a picture from a story,
the hailstorm symphony
you dance in when
you close your eyes. 

Your cyclone mixed
ingredients into a
whirlpool of glitter,
a brew that only you
would dare to swim
in.  It spun you around
the playground in an
interpretive dance only
known to your imaginary
friends.  The swings were
your dragons, the jungle gym
was your kingdom, and you
were a dandelion seed.

In the classroom, you tore
the words I read apart, grated them,
dispersed them into something new. 
Your way was messier, but also,
more perfect; like watermelon seeds,
you spat out the boring facts.  I listened
to what remained, what you generated. 

You never slept at naptime; the ceiling
was a circus.  I said close your eyes, and
you apparated to outer space.  I said pay
attention, and you told me a story, and
your voice was a swirl of finger paint colors
not fully mixed, and a lightening lived
in your pupils and shocked my veins. 

But one day, you staggered into class, your eye sockets drained of lightening.
You didn’t search for an outlet, you focused on my words, you swallowed
too many watermelon seeds.  Now the ceiling is a roof, and your eyelids are blank
space, and books are for reading and mats are for sleeping.  Your fantasies were
once platelets, feeding your blood tsunami, gushing over cities, melting
reality.  But someone built a rock wall that your waves can’t seep through. 
You sit still with folded hands at story time, and I need to test your vital signs,
to ensure that your ocean – no, your river –no, your stream of blood still
circulates, without a tornado to spiral and direct it.

(Fall 2009)

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