Forbes and Fifth

What Gravity Feels Like

I wonder
how it feels 
to let the petals of 
the dying magnolia slip
through your 
fingers on a Sunday
afternoon; I want to make 
pancakes with you,
flip them over our shoulders
like we did when we worked
at that summer camp,
in the mountains, 
the one with the meal-time prayers,
and the God that is also a king— 
each child a blessing,
each moment one of gravity, 
each soul too heavy
to keep us from crying.

Crying, I wonder:
when you hear a song
about God’s grace and
majesty, do you think of me?
Think of the beers we
drank in the summertime,
filled-up-drunk on expectations
of a sunnier tomorrow, laughing
as the serious old men on TV made
fools of themselves with
their babble, 
laughing because it was
June and though the magnolia
tree had died
we still had each other
and the long expanse of fever-dream days
and a promise of another fall,
another spring,
another chance, maybe
just another beer.
Maybe that was enough. 

Maybe we’d wake up and
fall in love, over
and over again with the 
same stupid man. Maybe
we’d suck the juice from your
dad’s homegrown tomatoes, lined-up
in rows on your deck,
sweet and hot in the glary sun that
kept on shining for weeks
and weeks and weeks and
suddenly we find it is August
and I’m moving back
to Pittsburgh and you’re
moving to the Middle East and
I wonder why God
only lets me close to you
in the summertime;
we have another glass of
wine, another strawberry,
three more fresh-baked sugar
cookies. We are lazy and
lean and we take long walks and 
feel the sun beat the sidewalk through
our Birkenstocks and we decide
the air is too-hot-too-thick
to walk any faster. 

Faster and faster, pastures and
farms and sunflower fields and 
Pennsylvania mountains pass; we find 
that the summer slipped away
from us, yet there is so much yet 
to do, to see, 
to remember,
we drive and drive and as the 
fields turn to mountains, I wonder:
Was I careless with my blessings?
Is each soul still heavy
if the God is no longer a king?
How will we feel when we find
ourselves again back where we met, 
we lived, flipped pancakes,
sang grace-songs?

Songs, sung long
after I decide
it is a ruse;
we sit around the 
fire, next to past staff 
members, fellow soul-blessers
fellow gravity-deniers:
please let all the little children
come to Him, we sing to 
Him, we raise hands, push up 
against that big force in the sky 
and close our eyes and I guess 
I’m supposed to see 
the face of God when I do this, 
but all I see is you and you and 
all those past loves that graced 
this place, like the tears on my 
pillow case and my white-clenched 
knuckles on the steering wheel;
there is deep pain
in this place, deep joy
too, the two always
seem to walk together,
dance and dance and
dance in the spruce-fresh darkness,
star-lit night. 

Night settles, 
the pond water moves under the hand
of something we cannot see;
softer-songs, fumes
from freshly-lit lanterns;
frightened by our own
rawness, we drive to my 
family’s cabin in the woods just
close enough, just far
enough away; the plumbing
is broken but we smoke
weed and talk about 
the girls we’ve kissed, I’ve 
kissed, and eat wasabi peas
and wonder how long
this all will last.

Will it all last,
will it last at all,
I don’t remember sleeping
and I don’t remember driving
home, too fast, past
the manor hotel, the discount
hiking store, the place I got
into that really bad accident, with that
really drunk driver in the rain, all
those years ago, but I must
have been driving and we must
have made it back and I must
have breathed in your
scent, your skin, soft, smooth,
your cheeks magnolia blooms,
your lips a rotting fruit,
so lovely, so not-quite-gone,
so fleeting, so majestic,
all pancakes and grace-songs,
and almost home.

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Volume 9, Fall 2016