Cooper Wilhelm: This Is Not Because of You
Since Thursday I’ve come around to the idea that I could be in love
and still keep my life. I’ve been wondering if it can’t be like plying a marker
to a map, making all the daily roads brighter and thick as blood
vessels heavy with traffic trucking hand-in-hand with precious air.
This is not because of you.
The chief of police says we are treating
all threats as credible. But based on a recent poll
of things I’ve seen today, mostly in the woods,
I’m easy and ready
just say hi.
It is the fifth of July
and I am allowed to be sad again.
At least until Christmas.
But even misery is unfair, that one wound
we would have seen,
and I don’t think about the way effort
makes a hummingbird’s wings invisible, hiding the methods
and engines of, despite gravity and everything, staying
exactly where it was and when.
It is a man trying to carve a boat out of buckets
of storm water.
But I have forgotten all that and never refer to the maps
the act of highlighting makes you read, even though you know
the places from
the limited perspective of your daily life.
Once a woman in a car told me that she met Glenn Danzig once
and also that when she gave birth she didn’t know
she was giving birth to fear.
Sometimes I wish G-d had the grace of just one duckling
ripping larvae from the downy mud
that was hidden until the spotless sun cooked off its lake
like pulling back a sheet. Instead the good lord lets us think
there are things that we can keep, even in the immortal terror of being seen, every muscle,
every blade of you unable to stop itself
from coming to be known.
I’ve been in love twice, not at the same time,
and the woman in the car said I could quote her.
My life has started to feel like one long fourth act
in which nothing is decided and all good outcomes are unlikely.
The detectives have already failed,
and there is no climax, but I am old enough that
I can eat ice cream for every meal until I die. Here we go.
I was fairly settled falling
in love should be like skidding backwards
out of an airplane: accidental, no take backs,
and with an unspoken guarantee manifest to all involved
that I will fly through the ending scattered and destroyed and free of myself.
Cars sound so fast when they struggle.
They announce their own A for effort
no matter where they are directed to go.
There’s so much you can owe someone,
which is to say I have too much shame in me
to indulge in the self-confidence of panic.
Turn my own music down.
Everything slides back the lake
and nothing from the dark is sacred or protected.
Neither rocks, nor worms, nor eggs wrinkled like faces in the evil light.
Here we go.
Cooper Wilhelm's Microchapbook, Klaatu Verata Nikto, is now available from Ghost City Press. He is also the host of Into the Dark, a talk show about witchcraft on Radio Free Brooklyn, and sends poems on postcards to strangers at PoetryAndStrangers.com. He tweets @CooperWilhelm.