When I heard the bees
living in the roof of Notre Dame
survived the fire, I decided
I could make it to summer.
Without drinking more than my share.
Without fantasizing about two-week notices
and plane tickets. I became an adult
when I realized airports were awful.
Once, stranded in Newark
for the night, I slept on the floor
with one arm looped through the handle
of my carry-on bag—as if I could keep anyone
from running off with my luggage.
Mostly I’ve lost clothes
to weight and wind, favorite shirts
struggling to accommodate new width, good hats
blown right off my head,
tumbling over gunwales and sinking immediately,
no use turning around.
Strange to think of something that held you
becoming litter, strange
to ask a carpet from the seventies
to become a bed. Strange to think that Notre Dame
survived two world wars, bombers and armies,
only to succumb to a few sparks.
My city has deactivated its tornado sirens,
which are also air raid sirens, which means
whatever is barreling toward us and at what speed,
we’ll have to find out another way.
Buildings were never holy.
Bees are travelling preachers, the real deal,
whose one true dream is to fill
empty space with sweetness.
Dear priests in drag, dear builders of mazes,
dear anti-smoking billboards, I don’t know
exactly how to be good. Lately after work
I make lists of things that need done and then
instead of doing them I drink cheap beer
imagining how safe I will feel when
the next paycheck hits. Lately I bless everything
except myself. What I miss most about cigarettes
was how they solved every problem in my life
for exactly five seconds before making my hands
smell like sickness and my mouth taste like someone else’s
morning breath. The reason I stopped smoking
was the woman I loved, and still love, made me
change my clothes after every cigarette. Also pneumonia,
but that was secondary. For her I moved to Michigan
instead of going home. Which still felt like going home.
We were walking back from the bar one night—
both a little slant, both a little full of whisky
and summer and each other. A car pulled up
to the curb, rolled a window down. A drunk woman
leaned halfway into the evening, held out a crawdad,
shouted “Crawdad!” Offered no explanation,
drove away. Explanation is the death of the spirit.
I bless her. I bless the crawdad in her hand, the idea
of an exoskeleton. That some creatures may pass
through the labyrinths of their own bodies and be reborn.