I've had my crippling moments.
They'd either start in my stomach
with an ache like broken glass
or stab me right in the catharsis,
somewhere near my heart or breath
or maybe my left foot.
I wouldn't know how it feels
to hurt to walk, but I imagine
with a destination like farther,
it's no pilgrimage.
So take the burden off your back.
Life is not a sandstorm
and your lungs are only a mirage
if you expect to see your breath
every time you breathe.
So take a breath
back, just one step
and listen with your smoke signals.
Help is on the way.
I just can't promise
it knows much about this lifetime.
It's the same way I could never promise
elephants remember everything
or that every Elvis impersonator
means thank you very much outside
of his facade. Don't bother asking God either.
He wouldn't know and he wouldn't care.
He's still trying to number the hairs
on my head, hoping he won't lose count.
Our days are often double-digit jerseyed.
And go ahead and tell me now that this isn't a game.
Very few people get a laugh in as their final word.
Some people never stop growing.
It's the reason they live so well
and then it's the reason they die.
Their insides don't have to tiptoe
to cheat the growth spurts marked
by ruler and remembered by the dining room wall.
There are times the brain learns
how to age before the body does.
I remember a girl scout who told her camp counselor
with reptilian eyes and skin enduring like a carapace,
"Don't worry about wrinkles,
you are a tree."
She wasn't afraid of her age.
She wasn't afraid of the way
her body grew more and more
like a stormy night outside
her grandchild's window
every time a decade of candles went out.
She was afraid of getting sick
but even more afraid of forgetting.
So don't worry if you wish
to be buried before your memory.
There is still a tree outside
your granddaughter's bedroom
that casts a shadow like an elephant's skull.
It has a collection of tusks and it knows
each one both in its ebony and its ivory, like piano keys.
We all gather round a sickbed
and with all this weight
I feel part of an elegy for pachyderms.