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