Elizabeth calls to tell me she is ruined



Elizabeth calls to tell me she is ruined
why didn’t you warn me, daddy
i didn’t know what to say
i sympathize
i remember that feeling, Elizabeth
here is what I should have told you yesterday—
yes, you are ruined; i suspect it is
like discovering you are six years old
on a beautiful island
without your friends, without your family
all the people here walk so well
you almost hate them because you stumble so
you decide to call it
The Island of Sure-Footed Fucks
because you are on your own and who is there to stop you
everything they say, these islanders,
comes in colors, comes in flavors
but they don’t always talk
each day they all go to the beach, every one
and throw a chaise down on the sand
they sit and stare at the horizon
they are right beside you staring
they don’t seem to mind that you are so little
they don’t seem to mind that you are so strange
in the back of your head, just above that hollow place
over the spine and before the skull-cap
a physical glow begins; it is warm and pleasant
unlike anything you’ve ever known
like a nirvanic, Buddha massage
your heart speeds and flutters and your breath
stays shallow so as not to disturb this deliciousness
you realize that this is the resonance that builds
in your own brain when the people around you
are lost in deep thought
this almost never happens
in the world where you used to live
these sure-footed fucks are thinking all the time
now you’re going to have to keep up—yikes
beyond the beach, just at the horizon, rises
every day, the whole damned world comes up
and these are the only people who get to see it
now you get to see it, too
later at the bar you find you’ve aged
your steps have become precise
you hear these ones with which you share the world
they talk in colors, talk in flavors
they make no comments that aren’t built carefully
in dazzling strata like a pousse-café
you are ruined because you can never go back now
you want to see the world every day
you want to step like an angel goat, light and swift
you sip each delightful layer of your drink
like Leda you reflect
that there are compensations
in ruin

—Don Whittington


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