Unrecognizable Mess

I had barely slept a wink
Nightmares drowning my mind like a drink
All they did was leave me in a sweat
A cold wake-up-out-of-breath threat
The kind of dream that makes you shake
Not outside, not your skin and hands and lips but inside
A shaking where heart and spirit fuse and collide
And so I spent those twilight hours thinking of those who died
A thought tiptoeing around the synaptic corners of my mind
To the parts that find themselves caring and blind
Wondering if I’ll see them again
Or hear them again
Or touch them again
Good women and men
And a disappearing act we’re all destined for
The way of the sobering finale to a play we don’t want to end

That was the morning I saw the wreck
A mangled mess of metal and mechanism
Wrapped around a light pole—the darkness of death was wrapped around a light pole
Its illumination cutting through the fog
Like a curtain being pulled back in a dusty house
Corpses on the cushions
Rubber shoe soles melted onto brake pedals
Teeth in a windshield, wipers stuck halfway through a final sweep that would’ve finally cleared things up
Would’ve finally put something visible in front, would’ve made the thick, blood-metal-scented air finally dissipate
Would’ve made things understandable

I spend every hour, every minute, of every day holding the switch of my life with the thinnest of strings
And most of that time I still fall in love with dying things

The traffic backed up, gaping their mouths, staring at the smoldering lump of car, pickup truck, van—unrecognizable mess
When you drive by a cemetery you’re taught to hold your breath
But here I am gasping and clutching at my chest
And I wonder
If maybe…if maybe they were in love with life
If in the moment of screeching tires and their final intakes of breath
What flashed before their eyes was this fleeting thing that vibrates inside everything we cherish
That we go white-knuckled and scream to hold onto
As it slips through our fingers like water
Even their wreck, the culmination of 30, 40, 50, 16? years, will end
The remains of the cars and bodies will be taken away under the rain
The police will fill a report, the fireman will vanish with the flames, the traffic will move on, some of them never even knowing what happened
But I saw it
I saw it, and I thought to myself, that what made life dear
Was, just this, to fall in love with dying things
And then to watch
What’s most precious is what’s most limited
And as I looked on, filled with pulsing blood and dreams
I fell, for a moment, in love with everything coming apart at the seams
Because, looking at death, I felt a bit infinite
A bit longer
And I just wanted to savor it
Like the last drop of honey, the last wink of pleasant sleep, the last kiss, the last growing thing
We want to savor it, and save it
Hold onto it until we wrap ourselves around a light pole, because just maybe it’ll stave off the darkness
But, the truth is, it can’t
It won’t
And never was going to
As sure as there was nothing I could do
The dying don’t need the help of the dying
But rather of one who beats death
The only life in an unrecognizable mess
A man living with holes in his hands, feet and chest
With whom sadness and death don’t come in with the dawn
And the dying things can go on


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