for Jim Diehr
Tonight you’re soaring fearlessly over Prague
while speaking Portuguese with your dad,
but last night that man you never should have
smiled at lay beside you in bed touching
your left breast and murmuring, “What’s your name?”
These lives I send you in your sleep are not
random—they were yours all along. I just
release them from this little box in my lap.
I congratulate you on the good run
you’ve been having. Others won’t be so lucky.
Soon I will send out an hourglass spider
trained to crawl across someone’s eyelid, a huge
savings account that will quickly dissolve
from someone’s bank, and a wailing child who
can’t be comforted. I love my job, I
dispense ecstasy and suffering
in equal measure, and I’m neither thanked
nor blamed. I’m God’s best-kept secret, the one
who answers your deepest questions. In darkness
I whisper in your ear: This is who you really are.
Originally from Ivanhoe, Virginia, David Huddle taught for thirty-eight years at the University of Vermont, then served three years as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University. He now teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English, the Ranier Writing Workshop, and the Sewanee School of Letters. Huddle’s writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The American Scholar, Esquire, Harper’s, The Georgia Review, and in many other publications. His novel Nothing Can Make Me Do This won the 2012 Library of Virginia Award for Fiction, and his collection Black Snake at the Family Reunion won the 2013 PEN New England Award for Poetry.