Long before the deep pain’s cure
from the soothing verve of the primping noun.
Before a remedy for a heart sorting out
the lost and found.
Before the vaccines of verbs
to build immunity against resistant strains
of some sharp sorrow
or a joy one can’t contain
Long before the x-rayed work
of eager grads
weak and underfed in research
or unwilling test subjects, trial cases, guinea pigs
it starts with a title – a town
because to wander aimlessly is sin.
And the words need a place, a home
to gather ‘round and be.
But a home needs a road
a means to get there: taking turns
sharply left or right or yielding
one into the next
the shortest straight distance
between two points
or what will, years down the line,
turn out to be a shortcut
through trodden dirt paths:
private moments of natural peace with
thorn scrapes and tears
worth the economy of time.
Why not a porch – with a particular amount of steps
leading up? And a gate before, perhaps,
with two mighty marble pillars or a rusted metal
one with broken whining hinges.
And before this home holds life,
before that special corner of each word
has light or not, can cast a shadow on that thing
long forgot, or not
or broken things which held favour
long before are dwelt upon and
pondered in an evening of score
this home must have its rooms:
purposeful and only so
or meaningful and rightly so
with acrid odours of saccharined trash
unrinsed tins useless to recycle,
feline distemper soaked in concave dents
of sofa cushions – a favourite spot
of a winsome elder who’s wisdom is long gone.
And all these things take time
and several hundred slams
of front doors and back doors, bedrooms and baths
granite kitchen countertops and grout
still stained with iron-rich blood
that hasn’t quite ceded a bleaching death.
Pencil markings for height and radiators sloppy
from melted coloured crayons nagging at our bigotries
showing us, “See? We can lay one on the other,
do this melting and have it good.”
Rabbit ears, VHS tapes, mismatched flatware and china…
Each closet’s a festering bulge: straining crisscrossed wire hangers,
hooks barely hanging on, fabrics feeding
unlarvaed lives and synthetics suffocating
in plastic still wrapped yet years home from the cleaners.
The words need that time together.
They need that propping up.
One against the other
or absent at the moment of some great fall
to mourn and sadly look up from a deed
told on lines further back in bleak enjambment of unreconciled guilt –
they need the gapping mote
of their own bit of unbreachable peace.
On opposite sides of the house:
the he said/she said of
“I need some space.”
“Please, give me just a little more time.”
One word will keep its distance
in the worn, armed rocker in the living room.
The other word will kneel in the damp dirt
of the cluttered, fertile yard.
Of course, it won’t be barren.
Of course, it won’t be seedless.
As so little seldom is, or should be
in wild spaces out of doors.
| Juan-Paolo Perre