It must have been like this from the start, when
I slid slick and hungry out into the light: always

the desire to know the luster and ache of each
named thing. My body is aging, but is still

tender, still wants freedom and confinement in
certain measure; still finds, somehow, every

moment ineffable and astonishing. I close my
eyes at night and by dawn the trees have burst
into bloom. Oh, the little rituals people play,

the apotropaic fires we tend in the darkness,
keeping our souls warm. I always love each
thing so much at first, every city, each timbre

and metacarpal, and then I can’t let go. Nothing is
tenable, not even the afterglow of grief. The urge
to scathe, to score small holes in a person and

see what wells to the surface—every day is a day
to be human. In a dream I wander bruised and
barefoot in an unknown building, spit teeth

into palm where one is carved into a tiny
skull, the hand cradling them split open and
inside it: a smaller hand, lacy and nacreous.

Each of my lives fits inside the others, and yet
they hate one another, war like animals in
the dark, all keen and blood. What is the name

for when you lament some thing not yet dead?
Once, a stranger and I lay together exhausted
on the floor of an empty room like some spent

junkyard tangle, a thing loved, then abandoned
at the edge of town. That, I think, was my favorite
moment of them all. But that, too, was a dream.

I name any thing dream I can’t have for long,
which, really, is everything.

It must have been like this from the start,

Photo used under CC.