With some reservation, you can swear off the clutch of voices, but remember
to look both ways before crossing each soirée of memory—
like the hotel soap you lifted sans the prayer book, a tawdry bird’s nest
with costumed ghosts in a clammy sad room. For your sake, they keep up
the pretenses—they pour coffee, ply your insides with a street-lined parade
of citizens—Cradling, rocking, breaking, mistaking you for the one who brings
her own chair and umbrella to the paradox of fireworks. This is the ploy.
This is the pain. This is what remains after the ache of rain.
Don’t hold your breath for the covered dishes and wagons, the poorest excuses
for Billy Goats on the greenest acres of your imaginings. Even sorrow and grief will suit up
and riff on your behalf. Sequins worn to the grand estates, serving up peonies
or selfie grenades. No, not alone. Get on with it, the daily knotted headache,
saucy arguments and botched plans of honeycomb and hive-mind. Because you needed
to belong—You sought the debutantes who flaunted their flexed prom dates.
See how they build their houses with bricks of silence. Frocks and all, they took you
and your shadow, door to door with a harmonica heart bleating for mercy.
Forging their signatures, paying their rent, doing any tangible thing to forget
that we are all just a limited edition. Let the census takers be damned.
Count the cups, see their lip stains. They talk behind your back,
derailing trains, with so many pennies from their invisible chasm of hands.