Would You Be a Lilac?

Kiss me, you’re beautiful. These are truly the last days.
(a Reflection on Godspeed You! Black Emperor's F#A# infinity)

The train through the window was a muffled weeping
with the rain scratching on the glass
like the whispers of a vinyl record. 

I sat in this tub room for an hour yesterday,
the passengers knocking incessantly;
a desperate boy who had to pee, a woman who swore I had drowned.

I refused to answer because I had none,
other than to rest in the water that couldn’t cover my body.
The water had soaked the hair on my legs and I could feel it
weigh down my knees as they stood out of the miniature tub, 
like volcanic mountains among pacific waves.

I sat my book on the toilet’s rim and set my arms in the water.
The hair of my arm caught bubbles of air
like droplets of polystyrene dew on an artificial flower.
The water was warm like my brazen skin
and I was reminded of you again.

If you were a flower would you be a lilac?
Some say they represent a first love.
Others claim youthful innocence.

Yes, I had a love once before, but she was no lilac.
She was a cherry blossom. Transient and ephemeral.
Knowing nothing of love but a simple naiveté,
like a child who longs for God’s attention.

God is buried in a book, sitting on the toilet’s edge
anxious to turn every page and discover the next chapter

God is buried in the bagpipe player’s chanter
as he drones from a cabin down the hall

God is buried in the sewage of the train
as it crosses the South African border
expecting the passengers to be able to sleep
until the destination has arrived

We will be crushed, you and I
like two pennies laid on the rail
laying face to face as our tales fade
into the discourse that keeps us one,
ending where we'd begun.

Somewhere in Tibet a baby is crying.
Her father lay to waste under Olympic coliseums
and the fervor of dreams of fame and wealth.

Somewhere in Vienna a woman is drowning
in a pool of vomit and spit, her stockings strewn about her face
like a holy handkerchief, fishnet prints on her cheek.

The complaints of the homeless are a muted cello
in the cellar of an Italian winery. The catacombs echo
a resilient, dampened satire, a plot-less minstrel show;
improvisations of the beggar laying on a park bench,
cheating death under the same stars that guard this border.

We’re not so safe, you and I. 
We are afraid.


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