Today's poem is by Dan Albergotti

Turning Back

We turn back, always bowing to that urge
to return, to revise, to be certain. What do we want?
Everything we can never get.

Like Orpheus, we turn sharply when we think
we're home free, when we should know better,
when we should know Eurydice's breath

on our backs. What we get is darkness
at the mouth of the cave, the flare of fingertips,
and echoes of farewell from the depths.

Like Lot's wife, we become nostalgic.
We remember the salty tinge of warm skin,
the endless nights with the god of desire,

and we have to cast one last longing glance.
What we get is salt in the veins and a footnote
in God's grand book of ironic retribution.

Or like my ancestor Selina, we are defiant,
running back into the house each time
Sherman's troops set a new fire, succeeding

three times before finding flames too large
to overcome. It's February, 1865, and all
this fire won't make it warm. What we get

is watching our convalescent son be carried
out of the house by the Union soldiers
to die quietly on the open mall in a freezing gale.

Let us praise reckless acts, these fierce acts
of futility. Let us always stop, turn back
even when we know that some cold fate,

some heartless soldier, some angry god
will be there, ready to turn us around,
to send us forward, saying Don't come back.

Copyright © 2008 Dan Albergotti All rights reserved
from The Boatloads
BOA Editions Ltd.
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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