They give us a white cube, a paper box,
the kind that might hold a small gift,
and ask us to write or draw on its surface
our image of the divinity, whatever
that might be.
We’re here, we have,
in principal, already agreed.
Daniel’s octopus is a Buddha,
Glenn’s highest self a blazing star,
though no marker’s adequately golden.
In my future blue one hand blooms
from the next in a rush of wind
from another life.
Step two: Write
on an index card what you most want
to be released from, fold it,
place it inside, close the lid. That’s it,
that’s the end of the exercise.
Walking home on Sixth, thinking
Its intention not artifact that matters,
I’m inclined to toss the thing away,
but I wind up walking blocks
holding this coffer only a little bigger
than my hand. Steam blurs
a bank’s bright windows;
glassy slab of winter twilight
over the stairs to the subway,
then I’m down in the station, restless,
walking the long platform,
the unnameable of music too far
to name. Keep walking, a violin,
sonorous, emotive. Closer: resolute travelers
facing the tracks but the rest of us
turn toward the man whose powers
concentrate on his instrument,
from which pours
– how is it possible? –
an aching distillate so exact
I don’t need to go anywhere.
CD for sale in the velvet cavity
beside his shoes, two dollar bills,
Odd bit of movement
across the tracks, so I can’t help but look
toward the platform:a tall black man
– why does his darkness
seem to matter? — cradling a violin
that isn’t there, invisible chin-rest
beneath his jaw, immaterial body resting
on the shoulder of his coat, and the bow
that isn’t there lifted and lowered
Not mimicry; he knows the music.
On my side of the double tracks
the tunnel fills with an embodied grief,
too poised to be an outcry, contained,
larger than any single suffering,
and the man on the other side
makes nothing, no sound at all,
but answers adequately.
What did I write on that card?
One blue hand folding out of another,
one golden octopus,
one embattled star,
this box in these hands,
that have done so much
to harm myself,