One castaway to another

Graphic by Claire Sheen

Today I will go blind making eyes at you, 

you orphaned orb of the sky, 

white-hot with cruelty and with love 

for all things growing, for all things

spangled green and gold.

I know you are the anchor 

and the end

of a melting world, a burning world.

I know that in the long days of August 

when the earth casts away your shadow, 

you are lonely. 

I pray to you and to your light—

rip away my human softness

and show me how to live in honest savagery. 

Your face is shining and distant, 

like gold falling through water. 

The color of you on crackling pavement—

a bright purple-red stain of life. 

It is said that earth has no sorrows that earth cannot heal, 

but each night when you scorn me I cry out 

in longing. 

I used to think that invisibility was a kind of miracle—

that there was pain in being seen—

but now in this awkward landscape of memory

when I forget my name each twilight and

when certainty is a commodity, 

there is heroism in endurance, 

and I pray for your endurance. 

Annihilation is a stone skipped across a pond, 

waiting to plummet beneath the glassy surface, 

and I pray once more for your endurance. 

When you leave me behind in the evenings, 

all the air goes out of my lungs, 

and I wait for the darkness

to overrun my body. 

Night is a beast of infinite panic, 

a discharge of black ink upon my brow

that makes corpses out of hope. 

And in my deathless anxiety, 

I pray once more for your return. 

I pray for your return and for your resurrection 

and for the grace of your hands on my body. 

You touch me, and I am alive. 

I pray for the dawn, a ribbon of blue paint 

threaded through the sky by your careful fingertips.

Each morning, I pray for you. 

I wait for you. 

We will endure, 

we two castaways. 

You will return to me, 

and maybe to know that

is enough.

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