1981

I learned the word disaster meant against the stars,
learned it did not apply to this world; the sky intended
every cruelty.
…………………I watched the boy with no legs draw
pictures of feet for an hour in Study Hall.
………………………………………………………In the hall
of my uncle’s rest home I heard the paper voice of a man
so old he’d forgotten he was blind. When a nurse passed
his door, he’d ask “Turn the lights on, would you?”

I learned sadness like a way home from school. I got in
later and later. Some nights I didn’t come back at all
but sat up waiting for myself.
……………………………………….I passed Geography,
History, & Spanish for the last time. My cat died.
My dog turned grey. My physics teacher was hit
by an ambulance.
But I read a book & understood it.
A woman asked me to touch her body. I did.
……………………………………………………………I wrote
my first poem. It said people were like moons. I believed
what I wrote, believed I had done all my writing, wouldn’t
do anymore.
…………………Then I believed a book that said the oleanders
behind our house were poison. All summer I dreamed
of meeting someone I could feed one brutal flower.

 

© Brendan Constantine, all rights reserved. This poem originally appeared in the journal Luvina, 2009