Landis Grenville Tallahassee (David Kirby)
45 Union Line to Presidio
When the child was a child,
It didn’t know it was a child.
Sometimes the sky can be this close, dawn weighing across
roofs and in the net of trolley lines, a city asleep
under the table of the world, but for this slight of hand
as night’s linens strip to blue. And I have given up on being
a saved woman. I want this city and its lively ossuary.
Just the worship of a bus on time and in the right direction.
Heading along into the accident of my life as it arrives
and retreats along the fine thread of the hour. And looking out,
why here and not there? One purple flower outside the window.
Two aspirin for the headache I’ve had all night. Sometimes
the world confiding itself behind the blare of the sun
is too much to hear all at once! It says, turn away, and I do.
And why not? Earth is still a beautiful place to die. Once,
my mother sewed white feathers to cardboard and dressed us
in the gauze of flight and the smack of pearls as we landed.
It is true I do not want to die. Though nor do I want to be
an orchard governed, paradise remedied of the ordinary I.
Odd to say the world is as old as man though the dirt is older.
In the scalpeled breeze of the bus departing, I stumble
through the park already crowded by the plectra of voices.
This simple stage—grass and asphalt, a child’s pink giraffe--
all arriving out of nothing. Teenagers interrupt the field, huddling
in the grass to sip from a single gas station cup. The nannies
on the benches, lit in morning, slip into small laughter. Alone,
I press into the stillness of a concrete wall edging along the grass.
The light ardent through my eyes shut. No one is noticing
the baby boy, down on his knees in the center of the playground,
his eyes pinning that fugitive sky. Grace is the body arriving
in present tense. I am only saying, not yet, not yet.