As If


The massive, grimy river shouldered its way
toward the harbor. I stood under the ruckus of sky.

The wind plucked awnings, plastic bags, newspapers
and sent the news twirling over corduroy waters.

I’d meant to see art, but the plan miscarried.
A guitarist stationed in a doorway bent his head

to rasp his ballad into the wind’s
sore throat. Rainlight glossed the guitar strings

and played its own tune, this city such a storm of wants.
“You have a right to your actions,

but never to your actions’ fruits,” said Krishna
in a book I read, with all the etcetera

about desire and emptiness. What did I want
and why did I want it so hard? Not emptiness,

but a self like rain driven
aslant the fence, the hacked-at sycamore.

That morning, laid out on a marble slab at the store,
the exposed red knob of a fish’s heart kept its pulse

in the butchered half-creature— no gills,
no head, no fins, no guts, no tail—

just the flat half-body and spine
and the heart blurping and shuddering in its own

obstinate rhythm. As if, it seemed to say,
as if, you idiot, you ever could be free.


For more stories, like the New Republic on Facebook:

Loading Related Articles...
Article Tools