Today, I ran the track behind my house.
From jumbled, piled-on, crumbling roofs, the steam
was rising up, was rising through the branches
that chilling wind from blank and pale blue skies
had stripped, made bare and brown and skeletal.
Beyond the crowd of rooftops soars the skyline.
You’ll glimpse it, tenuously, beyond the trees.
The park is hidden in the urban heart
of Louisville. November empties it.
The eye avoids the dead expanse of grass
encircled by the asphalt underfoot.
Air was flowing down my throat to fill
my swelling lungs; from there, the blood, impelled
by frantic, brute contractions of the heart –
its red, wet chambers – to pound and rush and burn
beneath the skin (November air without)
retrieved and by the means of ever-branching
arteries distributed the gasped-in,
gasped-out air to limbs and joints revolving
a wheeling orbit, an economy
of grace, and for a brief, eternal moment,
the body’s fluid motion and the pulsing
in my ears eclipsed all earthly cares.
I hung suspended, touched not ground nor sky,
but flew between them.
Then I crashed and gasped
and trudged a desultory final lap.
The moonlight streaming through my kitchen window
shines cold and bright, so very old and white, and
the night seems vast and strange and black and empty;
a roof is all that hides me from the sky.
As if the human race, as one, cried out,
the wind is groaning around the vinyl siding
of my creaking house; it sounds as though
it blew from out of the inky void above.
I linger over whiskey late at night;
I think, and drink, and listen to the wind.
Now I am a wretched mess, I must confess;
I’m filled with wrenching cosmic vertigo.
Sometimes – what’s this? – while going about my day,
my eyes are wet with tears. I can’t say why.
So. I sit up late and night and listen,
and listen to the huge and roaring darkness,
the huge and roaring darkness that surrounds me.
I listen to the darkness and I know
that moment follows moment ‘till we die.
Moment will follow moment ‘till I die,
Until the roaring darkness overtakes me,
Until, at last, the blank and pale blue sky
At last strips every leaf from every tree.
I'll bleed and gasp and fight and cry and run
Until the pain of living ends my life.
I’ll close my eyes and no more see the sun:
An end to striving and an end to strife.
The universe will also have its turn.
The earth will pass away, the heavens roar;
The seas will boil, the atmosphere will burn,
And the dark will blow out every single star.
And then I’ll awaken from this life, this dream,
And run untiring on unfading green.
Copyright 2013 by Ike Wassom. All rights reserved.