Sure, I think about loss. I perform
the stations of the cross in my
bathrobe, with a car battery
and a rusty can of WD-40,
let go of myself like a balloon
whose terrified rising might
symbolize a kind of freedom
or escape. I feel alone sometimes.
I ride the subway. We’re not so
different, you and I, we sharpen
our fangs on cell bars, wrap our
pasts in cellophane to trade
for smallpox blankets
and personally engraved bullets.
We know the soul is a vapor
that fills any volume,
that the sound in your pipes
is a ghost trying to reach you
in morse code, that you’re still
not going to learn morse code.
We prefer being lied to.
It’s okay, no one has to know
what we do with pronouns
when we’re alone. When the light
hits her face like a linen dress
falls to the floor on Labor Day
morning, say so. Don’t say
the light is an eight-minute parade
from one star to another.
You should have thought of that
eight minutes ago.

Sharks have been around for a long time
and they seem to know what they’re doing.

Reach into one’s mouth and pull out a tooth,
it grows right back. That was unwise.

Keep your dirty hands out of it. Stick
to your shiitake mushrooms, your light therapy,

your blue trampoline, large enough to bounce on
but small enough so you know it is not for fun.

Stick to your book where tumors are a cluster
of frowny faces that play ring-around-the-rosy,

like they don’t know what that represents. The book
is called Sharks Don’t Get Cancer, and you bought it

because you were terrified, because you had no
real options, because fear divorces skepticism

once it smells blood in the water. It turns out sharks
do get cancer, but they don’t write books about it.

They don’t sell false hope, or gather around your
bedside saying it’s okay to let go if you want to,

even though it’s not. It’s not okay.

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