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Richard Jackson

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    I knew that somewhere Jesus wept.
         –Larry Brown, Dirty Work

That was when our love began for me, though late,
the way a flock of darkness settles over your shoulders.
I remember the muted reflections that smudged the water
prowling among the lingering rocks, a snail crawling
out of its shell, the drizzle of light, the blackened windows.
It was when that the sun peeled away the dark from the air,
the surface of the water, then the soul. It was only then
that I could read the shadows that followed our words.
It seemed that the whole planet was taking aim at our future.

I thought, then, that I could see your own soul in the constant
waves tearing unconcerned at the impenetrable dunes.
I wanted, then, to believe the moon is a flower,
fragrant, its stem tossed across the water. It was then
that I entered some other world, the way your life wakes
suddenly in the middle of the night to find your own
worn-out dreams lying in sheets around you, an empty bottle
on the table, and yet some voice stumbling down the hallway
of the wind trying the locked doors of the heart, calling out your name.

It was then on that shore after I heard the news of my friend’s
heart tearing open like a wet paper bag. I was standing
where Marconi sent his messages which seemed to fill the air,
still, like swallows. There is always another life in the corner
of our eyes, one that begins because our poor words have never
said what we meant at the time. Today, here, ladybugs fill
my porch screen trying to reach the early sun that radiates
through the fine mesh. They halt there like messages never
received, empty husks of some abandoned future we can never know.

Why is it we love so fully what has washed up on the beaches
of our hearts, those lost messages, lost friends, the daylight stars
we never get to see? Bad luck never takes a vacation, my friend
once wrote. It lies there among the broken shells and stones
we collect, a story he would say begins with you, with me,
a story that is forever lost among the backwaters of our lives,
our endless fear of ourselves, and our endless need for hope,
a story, perhaps an answer, a word suddenly on wing, the simple
sound of a torn heart, or the unmistakable scent of the morning’s fading moon.

Richard Jackson, The Cortland Review. Spring 2005.

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