Monday, March 10, 2014

Poem: "From Your Failed Assignment"

"From Your Failed Assignment"

Your voice was lemon-lime soda that melted
me into cream and your hand was cake frosting on
mine.  You guided me through that salad bowl
of midnight mist, on the road I knew just as
well in the dark.  But your words were

an ambulance, when no one else believed
I was ill.  My fingers clung to yours, like
those roller-coaster bars, that time I couldn’t
pull them apart.  The steam of your breath was
a disorienting fog, convincing me I didn’t know

my way.  But now I want to run and you
won’t let me go.  You guard the door, like
a doctor in a mental facility, instead of a friend
in my room.  I see now how happy I was as a
spider, until a dragonfly said my wings were

broken.  And I made my nails salmon
because you didn’t approve of plum.  And
your frosting-fingers failed to regenerate
a blood flow that hadn’t stopped. And you
thought I was sick because my river wasn’t

yours.  I was your failed assignment, crumbled
or shredded or burned.  The plan you wrote on
me was centered but grounded on quicksand –
I’m not a hardwood floor you can stand on.  I see
now that I was never ill; it was just pollen –

you were just pollen – searching my lungs for
a home.  You worked my white blood cells, pulled
them away from anything else they should have
destroyed.  It was years ago when I caught this infection,
but those blood cells that absorbed you still hide you

inside, and some days your pollen seeps out of that
cage, floods my veins and my lungs, telling me that
I shouldn’t need oxygen – years ago I would have
believed you and died.  Why don’t you see that our blood
doesn’t flow the same way, that I don’t need you to

replace my night vision or feed me like a child.
I’m not your assignment, passed or failed. 
The world is full of pollen and you can have
all you want – just let the rest of us breathe.

(Fall 2009)

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