The Several Words I Have

Michael Dumanis

You will never understand, try as you might,

a person other than yourself, controlling

an altogether different set of limbs. She was removing

her galoshes in the wet, insipid light. He was setting

the table for one, creasing the calm, paper napkin.

The world has lost its winters. We glisten in the sun,

each one of us a shiny obstacle to someone.

Is it the end of empathy? Of history? Who at this point,

navigating their browser through acres of weather,

has anything requiring being said? Why share

a knowledge no one wishes for? And is a poem just

a crack in time? Or is a poem time itself, continuing?

I may have mistaken motion for action

and action for proof, romping each night around

the phosphorescent dance floor, once a pretty dress

in a pretty hat, once a rumpled frog

under the awnings and parapets. My very appearance

at court caused astonishment. Now I recline

in my corner, delicate and mute, sheathing myself

in a leatherbound chair, shushing the migraine.

For whom did I mistake me, a president of some sort?

For who am I, a whistle in the exhaust?

It is all, nevertheless. I fail to tire of it.

I let go of the several words I have.


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