Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fool Errant

author’s note:

Many years ago, I got hold of something too hot to handle.

I’ve spend the intervening time trying to get it back.


Looking over at a roof top
I spied
a string of electric lights--
dead at the noon hour.

So I snuck back at midnight,
just to see how the bulbs
might perform
in the dark.

One--only one--burned
but even that one
on and off--

as if uncertain
of its decision.

All the other lights
were dead planets.

I believed that a simple twist
of the one good bulb
could make those other glass orbs
in an instantaneous blaze.

So I climbed over a wall and up
a tree, then shimmied along
a limb until

I reached that rooftop
and the spiraling string of lights
strung over its spine.

A deep breath
as I pulled
a burglar’s glove
over my hand

and then--with heroic anticipation--
I eased the one blinking bulb
deeper into its socket.

For a nanosecond I felt the satisfaction
of securing that bulb--felt the pleasure--
for one nanocsecond--

before a full dragon charge ripped
up my arm,
jagged my brain,
jangled my legs,
roared my intestines--yes


--like a god in its
fervor and severity--
gripped my entire frame,
shook my rationality
into watery jelly.

A moment later--after an eternity that
I will reference in the afterlife--
I blew from the roof like a crisp burnt leaf--
         though I’m actually a golden loaf
         with its gold still hidden
         under an opaque flaking crust--

I flipped and flopped as I dropped
without enough energy left
to even try to steady myself
--though I did have one worry:
my heart

--which I then found reflected
in that one blinking light--
all the other bulbs had blown out
but I could still see that one
flexing like starlight
high above me.

I realized then
that no amount of voltage
or neglect
could ever brown out
that bulb.  Imagine.

So I left that incident
with a pervasive joyfulness--
not something I shout about:
a quiet, determined joy
that reconciles me
to the relentless erosion
of heavy water--
that even reconciles me
to the dark fire--

a quiet, determined joy
that has returned to me
the mystery
of the night-starred hills, the mystery
of the deer
in fields of snow.

I do not offer my escapade
as a form to follow--

though obviously
some special force
guided my mind
to that fool’s errand,
guided me
to that string of light
with its electrical short.

I’m still looking
for that gold--
still eroding
that burnt crust.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton

earnest audio
new steps

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