The barista you used to know when you were younger
says Come, sit with me, and he tells you how
he doesn’t believe in reality anymore.
This chair, these teeth
could be anything that isn’t a chair,
Like the first dull
inspiration of color, how green eyes
are only ever the green they allow you to see.
You would take it
if you were fifteen and stoned,
and maybe later you would have tried
to unzip his jeans in the car,
but his mustache is curving below
his top lip like a barbed claw,
and you aren’t interested
in the drawing he shows you,
naming it “Shame.”
A sketch of a man,
such large hands over what kind of face.
You have to go, you say so, and sit on the street
that erupts twice a year,
once in white hot cherry blossoms,
once in black branches that streak
in stiff silhouettes – vibrations
made physical in the sky.
At home your father watches the television
muted, saying Who is this, and What
are these fellows doing, and every few minutes
he hears a sound that might be the ice box
spawning, and on double canes he
walks to the door, like a paper puppet
convulsing in the light.
You are going to stay on this bench a very long time,
watching autumn’s genocide paint salted lines
around the spaces where the leaves have pressed
their damp brown bodies to the ground.
What can they, or anyone hear
on a day like this, but the parade
of plastic soles, like a gloved applause
that resonates behind the bridge
of your nose, as each hand takes great pains
to be the one left clapping?
And how to carve the space around your body
into quiet, and grow a spindle
from your tongue to tighten these sounds
into something as thin and nearly tangible
as reality, or a single word.
When you finally go home, you are going to ask
your father how his day was, and he’ll say The egg
is on top of the egg but he won’t mean an egg
and he won’t mean an egg.