The first thing you notice is how
lonely they are. What they desire
consumes them. Who knows how long
their longing lasts? They come from dust,
like us, and to dust they will return.
Forget what you were told
about their twinkling. When their
magnificent voices begin to trill,
their songs flicker. Love, after all,
attracts dust to dust, flame to flame.
Who knows what a second means
to them? A century? Whatever questions
you may have, you should know,
they have the same questions.
Of course when they wish, they do not wish
upon themselves. But they do wish
to be held, knowing nothing can hold them.
To be held means to be restrained
or consoled. Like Boethius awaiting execution
in a cell in Pavia, he consoled himself
composing his song, O happy race
of mortals, if your hearts are ruled,
as is the universe, by love. Our love,
both too soft and too loud, is more than love.
And dust is more than dust. As you wipe
it from the credenza, as you brush it
with your hand from your lapel, you must
never forget, you too were once on fire.
Peter E. Murphy was born in Wales and grew up in New York City where he operated heavy equipment, managed a nightclub and drove a taxi. He is the author of eleven books and chapbooks of poetry and prose including I Thought I Was Gong to Be Okay and More Challenges for the Delusional, published by Diode Editions. His poems and essays have appeared in The Common, Diode, Guernica, Hippocampus, The Literary Review, Rattle and elsewhere. He lives on a slender barrier island off the coast of New Jersey. www.peteremurphy.com