Chancellor Florida State Poets Association
Florida Poet Laureate Volusia County
Winner of 2011 American Poet Prize
In this bar’s suspended lights, a halo hovers
over you. The tattoo that you stitched to your neck –
mythic spheres, a cluster of unnamed stars, a pyramid –
transforms to a sheet of muted notes, or a lusterless,
untraveled map once sketched for an epic plan
you had to separate, engage the three Fates,
their give and take, then bring your long tale
home. The bartender asks, OK? And though it
means a summoning, you nod and take another fill
from her tap; the glass like Waterford the way
you hold it still. It takes all you have
to drink from this new fountain.
To feel the sickening fall of cool, fresh water
against your stomach wall. To smell the souring
sediment of small bites of food. Good boy,
your mother must have crooned, Open wide.
And she must have mirror-opened her mouth too
as she spooned up solids pureed and fed them to
a vision, a mother’s trust, a boy’s long view.
Her mission, to nurture the god in you.
I am calling her here tonight – to your stool,
to this constellation of dying stars;
to this yearning – yours and ours – to this well
of life’s water, grit and resolution, memories;
to the imprint of an infant I held close to me
still altering my posture and my scaffolding.