poem by Rita Dove
The sky is not a glass of anything;
it winks, it’s a parable,
the kind your mother told whenever
you’d been “wicked”—intense
but vague. The night sky swerves
to its seat, the show begins:
Seven zeros make zero—that’s what
we are. Seven opportunities
to drown in, seven ways out—
don’t look too hard, we’ll blur.
There’s more of us than meets
the eye, a spreading rash
on the shoulder of a stubborn man.
Taken apart, we’re nothing
but fire and air.
Take it away! This is somebody else’s
nightmare. Can I be blamed
for wanting more? How else
stay young? My daughter, helpless,
outshines me in her willingness to serve.
Let her embrace her strong young man
and go. I’m chained to my chair.
This crag’s an adamant bed
but I’m grateful, grateful, at least
for my fingers, squirmed free of cuffs,
which heft the smaller stones to smash
the sea. Brave shining face above
your butterfly horse, descend
and fight like a man. Take me
and I’ll be your lover, slave, diviner,
as you wish. This
is what’s known as being
between a rock and a hard place.