You can’t go home again
is my least favorite law
of thermodynamics. The second
son, I always felt called
to be prodigal. Like my first drunk:
nine shots of knock-off absinthe
the day I turned sixteen, sprawled
on the Hauptstraße, coloring
the cobblestones sweet with vomit.
Licorice never did sit well with me,
the bitter root a spindle wrapped
in sugar. Much like life, Sartre
might have said, had he been given
to metaphor. In Paris I saw his gravestone
blotted with blackcurrant prints
of kisses and felt sorry
hell still natters at him.
This is the risk of wanting the body
to stay put. Since when is grave-robbing
an art? I asked the mummy in the Louvre.
I want to be given to metaphor
like an old man to an ice floe,
pushed into the churn of black water, waving back.
My kids won’t know what snow tastes like
because I keep forgetting to bring my own bags
for groceries. I like the parking lot
in winter, how sparrows huddle under my exhaust,
how they scatter when the car hacks back on.
That’s what I’ll miss: feathered things, flight.
Saying life expectancy smacks of hubris to me,
as if any of this could have been anticipated.
I read it on the sign-up sheet
for the first manned Mars mission: one-way,
of course. There was a picture, too, of Earth
taken from the surface, hanging like a lantern
gaslit, smudged, as cold as any star.