Arrival and Departure

Arrival and Departure

Arrival and Departure 1080 720 Richard-Yves Sitoski

1.

You appeared quickly, the way a bowl
appears on a lathe from a block of wood.
The ward is a hard place to spend your first hour.
Birth named after murdered tyrants
takes a range of tools resembling what dad hauled
in a hand-built box of ash. What I could see
above the cotton tenting meant movements
of the doctor’s arm like a hand plane’s back-and-forth.
I half expected curls of wood to fly.
You were one of many new lives that day
though I can only think of those outside
in sunblind summer with four legs and a tail.
The car had been front-ended a week before
by some fool gunning from a parking lot.
He started bawling when he saw your mother
pull herself through the door, you within.
That moment, no-one knew what you’d be.
A finished bowl, solid on the bench
and covered in sawdust, ready to contain
the world. Or something soft and bent,
spreading broken and wet on a bed of cement.

2.

I disappeared slowly, a sun going down
on a freshwater sea. These waves have rolled
since last glaciation, the closest thing
to permanence you will know.
You didn’t see me a town away, painting
pictures of the shore to keep perspective
in an abstract life. But I was torn apart
by late nights and August winds. Then autumn hit
with the force of family court judgements.
I was lost. Nothing survives those gales,
least of all a flophouse tenant drinking
summer-warm tapwater to bring him back
to your birthday legs floured in beach sand,
and to the kite string keeping the future
from being blown into the clouds.
I never meant for you to hold the string so long.
I never meant to wade into the lake,
or for you to see the bright red flash as I dove
and became extinguished, a cinder hissing
and steaming and finally out.
No wonder you hate the water.

Header photograph © Liz Baronofsky.

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