I used to mock my father and his chums
for getting up early on Sunday morning
and drinking coffee at a local spot
but now I’m one of those chumps.
No one cares about my old humiliations
but they go on dragging through my sleep
like a string of empty tin cans rattling
behind an abandoned car.
It’s like this: just when you think
you have forgotten that red-haired girl
who left you stranded in a parking lot
forty years ago, you wake up
early enough to see her disappearing
around the corner of your dream
on someone else’s motorcycle
roaring onto the highway at sunrise.
And so now I’m sitting in a dimly lit
café full of early morning risers
where the windows are covered with soot
and the coffee is warm and bitter.
I wish I could find that skinny, long-beaked boy
who perched in the branches of the old branch library.
He spent the Sabbath flying between the wobbly stacks
and the flimsy wooden tables on the second floor,
pecking at nuts, nesting in broken spines, scratching
notes under his own corner patch of sky.
I'd give anything to find that birdy boy again
bursting out into the dusky blue afternoon
with his satchel of scrawls and scribbles,
radiating heat, singing with joy.
Wheel me down to the shore
where the lighthouse was abandoned
and the moon tolls in the rafters.
Let me hear the wind paging through the trees
and see the stars flaring out, one by one,
like the forgotten faces of the dead.
I was never able to pray,
but let me inscribe my name
in the book of waves
and then stare into the dome
of a sky that never ends
and see my voice sail into the night.