So Mercutio cried – and before and since and ever,
the years start over in darkness, the face of the earth turned away from the sun;
The calendar is a ragged thread of a winter sweater
snagged on a fencepost nail; it’s a ball of yarn spooling out into the future,
bouncing across the kempt lawn of the universe into the weeds;
This year ahead is a cemetery laid at our feet,
month comes after month and we stumble on soft, worn tombstones
that mark the years since birth, since death;
the longer we live, the more days are so marked, the more tombstones meet our shins;
Every year, unknowing, we pass over the anniversary
of the day of our death, if we have any luck at all.
But this May day the Earth’s sunlit face
is turned like a leaf toward the sun; it’s tilted on its axis like an actress to the glass,
catching the better light from eight minutes ago, when I was someone else;
When no one is looking, the sunlight transforms –
bright green shoots, spiderwebs, reflections on the long glittering spine of river;
the Earth is holding up things that cast long, dark shadows.
Towering pines along the overgrown trail
wear bright orange slashes like beauty pageant sashes across their trunks –
they will likewise be changed –
bunk beds, books, toilet paper; everything on its way
from this thing to another – atoms rearrange in fire, in fusion, in decay.
I will leave these woods and face this oncoming twilight,
I will wash away the dust and ticks and leaves, I will stand naked as the day I was born,
and still I won’t see any bright orange slash across this body of mine,
this vessel that’s been hollowed out, stolen from, broken and healed,
bled and bound, this package that’s carried my soul
from riverbank to city to woods, marking my time,
finally pushing a tombstone like a sharp tooth
into the grass green mouth of the world,
unable to speak.
2 thoughts on “Ask For Me Tomorrow And You Shall Find Me a Grave Man!”
This poem, on this morning, is especially evocative and takes me to the woods, where my soul belongs. And you, my dear, long after your bones lie moldering in the grave will continue to speak because of it.
You are too kind. I played around with the concept of this poem for about 10 years before actually coming up with this version. I will moulder on! 🙂