Today's poem is by Timothy Daniel Welch

Tell the Truth But Leave Immediately After

Like the bear constellation who-after eating
            the horse—gets hitched
                                    to the wagon and

learns the difficult way that honesty is a kind of
solitude,             a little shade of tree an
the hint of feet going—

                        I have lived most of my life alone.
But not entirely. There was a time when a man

solicited me for sex but first wanted to buy me
            new shoes, so we window-shopped

until evening. The next step was to try on
"a dark boot," he said, and I remembered how

I wondered about the soul on my way home from school or
naked, touching a window smudge of a hand with
my hand, not knowing

what side of the glass I was on, or where
I was, where I was going, a soul in halves, an organ
like the spleen that listens
            and adjusts its white pulp—

I wanted a truth that blistered and
if possible said something about
my place in a brutal commerce,

my place in avoidance and so completely
wake from a dream like the one in high school when
I knew I loved
one of two twins—Julie, not

Jenny—with such clarity I poured orange juice
in my cereal. When I asked Julie if she'd go out

I left wondering which is more
human, to shoot
or to be shot, and if there's any truth

to taking a punch—close your eyes and
smile? or if the old Slovenian proverb,

            "Tell the truth but leave immediately after—"

                        asks to live one's life alone,
like the man standing outside a shoe store
watching his young prospect run—

because if a truth is ever told then
no one can ever leave.

Copyright © 2017 Timothy Daniel Welch All rights reserved
from Odd Bloom Seen from Space
University of Iowa Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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