®

Today's poem is by Michael David Roberts

Passages

Quiet. Everywhere. Like the breaths
of old women at evening mass—

the scuttle of rosaries in wrinkled hands—
like wind chimes on pagodas

or maple leaves tipping the slightest breeze,
like the shuffling footsteps of a boy

who walks head bent into his own shade,
hands stuffed in tight pockets,

bracing an urgency in his groin.
This boy, in particular, still sees

life as unleavened bread, his world
a wafer, stuck at the back of his tongue.

He sees the soft curves of his mother's back,
caught in kitchen glow, as the geometries of home.

He still rests within the surety of his father's
grip on twelve-year-old hands,

as they pass through crowds, his father
parting a narrow track, his mother

watching with worry as they disappear.
Soon enough, this boy will enter

the clutter of a city, alone,
shoulders squared against the mobs.

He will learn to temper
the textures of gravel and steel

with the push and pull of
his own sex within another's.

But for now he stirs in limbs
grown too long for his body,

arms that can reach and snatch
a bird from the air, hold it in

delicate hands, and ask it
what it knows beyond the limits of sky,

whether this quiet pulling in his mind
is nothing more than lacewings

tapping the taut surface of a dark lake.



Copyright © 2002 Michael David Roberts All rights reserved
from Chelsea
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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