Not for my sake do I care about memory’s fickle temperament,
its petulance and sulks. No, I stand here in the dazzle
of the present tense, in the presence of the untouchable moment.
But what of her, hanging inverted as a bat in my brain-cave,
curved homunculus, all grasping hands and greedy lips,
her black sky lit only by neural constellations? I don’t need
that day at the lake. Whose boat, how the sun shone,
what laughter. It is that silent other self who needs the heat, the buzz
of dragonflies among the cattails, the plish of the surfacing fish.
I have the toddler, calf crusted with sand, chin sticky with cherry popsicle.
She needs the nodding newborn, his tight nut of a fist,
his particular smell. She is the ant. I am the grasshopper.
I spend. She hoards. I want to whisper to her down the coil
of my ear’s nautilus, come out of there. Break out of your dumb pot,
that sleepy gone and forgotten. Be here in the bright right now beside me.
Of course, it doesn’t work this way. Past tense
does not conjugate itself back to present. The smoking wick
does not ignite, nor can the dark sister ever shroud herself in light.
Her winter waits for me: hungry ice, black, devouring.
But not today. She will not have me today. Today
I have all this: white sun hot on my bare shoulders, green
water, licking the trickle of juice from the webbing between thumb
and index finger, my son’s arm warm around my neck,
his breath sweet. Each moment, so sweet.