Phrases I’m Going Through

J.F. Lovell

As I see it
it recedes into the distance,
as dreams projected on the backs of eyelids
disappear into the dense fog of memory.
Forever elusive, forever mysterious,
forever sought after once it’s lost.
Son, even now I sense in your wide-eyed gaze
an instinctive awareness of its passing.

Doesn’t matter
matter? I recall a professor
of philosophy (following Berkeley)
promising to prove its inexistence,
assuring us we would “never miss it.”
But a wiser man took the bread
in his hands, saying, “This is my body.”
Quod erat demonstrandum.

Do you have the time
I yelled at you too loudly still
lodged in the soft flesh of your heart,
the way a splinter festers under the skin?
I’d like to gently retract it from there,
but I lack the deft touch with which
your Mom somehow guides the needle.
My clumsy hands prick. You always bleed a little.

As far as I’m concerned
isn’t nearly far enough, I know.
I can sympathize to a point,
lament and decry with conviction.
But still, one hundred starving infants
will die in every thousand over there.
Alarms ought to be screaming, since
checks falling into baskets make no noise.

These things happen
at a rate of 24 frames per second
right before our voyeuristic eyes,
but somehow they do not linger
in the brain, let alone the heart.
They’re here and gone, rapid-fire,
flickering: the brief candles
we watch nightly, between forkfuls, going out.

For what it’s worth
utterly outweighs what it costs—
something I can honestly say
I’ve never doubted, despite the
myriad of inane voices hurling
such jaw-droppingly gauche questions as
“Haven’t you had enough by now?”
I want to ask which one I should give back.

On the other hand
is the first link of the chain
that will lead us to heaven, or so
we can fervently hope, my love.
The man who put it so knowingly
understood too about the journey
to that farther shore, for he also had a Spouse
whose hand he did not dare let go of.

As a matter of fact
it seems to be beyond dispute:
the ancient bones, like Abel’s blood,
cry out from the ground, impossible
to ignore. As a matter of faith, however,
it’s the perennial riddle some cannot reconcile
with their letter-perfect notions of God—
the camel lodged in the gullet, muffling their outraged cries.

Just between us
lies that narrow strip of bedding that one night
is the soft, dry earth between the hedges
where we sneak our connubial tryst,
and another is the dark abyss, product
of the inevitable miscommunication,
across which our son will sometimes stretch—
that little pontiff, who holds the keys to our reunion.