Flood Stage

by Richard Jackson

Sometimes we are amazed to find that we are still alive.
Sometimes we reduce the world to a single street and
the street to the lamppost under which a man reads his fate.
Sometimes we fasten ourselves to the sound of the mole
as it nibbles through the earth.  Sometimes we are the earth.
Sometimes our words release all the sounds we have forgotten.
Rows of Cypress line the road to the next town.  You can see
the salt flats bare their souls to the sky.  Sometimes a flight
of crows passes through our own souls.  In fact it is the story
Roberto Bolano tells of the tortured girl, how they place
a live rat inside her vagina.  There’s this sideshow we call
our lives.  There are warehouses of emotion we rarely touch.
There’s a pier that never ends.  Piles of newspapers with no
front page.  But sometimes we are terraces of hope.
Sometimes our wayside crosses turn into doors.  Sometimes
we open them.  Sometimes we see more when we look
through a spider’s web.  All our desires are tourists with
faulty maps.  No one listens anymore to the violins of
the meadows.  As for myself, I can’t understand the bird
that sings at the mass graves near Srebrenica.  My head is
an aquarium, My heart is a sieve.  Sometimes we are an aria
in search of a singer.  Sometimes our shadows shiver without us.
Sometimes tomorrow falls on yesterday.  The sluice gates are
opening.  The highway wakes up.  Sometimes we just need
to endure the weather of love, the gusts of despair, the trestle
of tomorrow.  Sometimes, just sometimes, the sandbags we live
behind are never enough, a whole world begins to move in the
light of a swaying lamp, and I sit down to write this, the levees
of language failing, the heart floundering, the world on a barge.