I Am Living for the Circuit That Will Retire My Name
The apocalypse comes on, moving
like a person losing footing on wet rocks,
a slow but unstoppable unfolding. I sit
huddled under a blanket fort constructed
around an ironing board, but my head
detaches like a hot air balloon and floats
over island-thick vines, my heart bobbing
below in a fist-sized basket, stoking the fire
it takes to stay afloat. I examine for a while
the precariousness of ever being alive
knowing the final direction of everything is down.
Show me the bloom of a weather map stained
a new and terrifying purple. Show me the shit
that washes up on the lawn, the trees lying down
like so many bodies, and not least, the bodies.
Once I watched a man with perfect pitch
play a piano piece of his own composition
called angoisse or anguish. Once I saw a man
carry his dog through waist-deep water,
his home flooded out, a smile on his face.
Once an island called me home. In a year
my heart swelled and emptied out and then
I built a new husk for it to live in, my heart
a growing vegetable, blighted. My cat
looks in terror at night-darkened windows
and I know only crepuscular mammals
are telling the red truth. I know the years
will continue this way. I try to find a reservoir
in me that allows for continued action.
Someone tells me all these islands were formed
by volcanoes, now long dead, and I want to
say not my island but what does it matter
how the earth used to move and bubble?
What does it matter when in the end everyone
is stuck practicing to form their own names
silently in their individual mouths? I compare
freeze-frames of my own body moving
to freeze-frames of the weather.
Caroline Cabrera is author of the poetry collection Saint X, winner of the Hudson Prize and forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in January 2018. Her previous collections include The Bicycle Year, Flood Bloom, and the chapbook Dear Sensitive Beard. She teaches with Innovations for Learning, a nonprofit focused on improving primary literacy, as well as teaching creative writing workshops with the O, Miami Poetry Foundation. She lives in Fort Lauderdale.