For Michael Rascia
The second hand seemed to tremble on the edgeof motion when I was young, like a diverpoised with suppliant arms, paused in momentarystillness before secretly shifting his weightforward, opening to the instantgravity and air. But after half a centurymy seconds and minutes are long forgottencasualties, and weeks months years disappearlike pressed flowers crushed by fingers no longerprecise and nimble. And yet behind my backeach day still stretches feline in the brightnessof my memory, bee-song somnolentwithout eagerness for the moment aroundthe corner. And when night arrives, curtainedand padded or hard like a crucifix,nubilous as obsidian or moonlight-silver,I will stand trembling on its edge with suppliantarms and just enough time for one last dive.
The man in the royal blue turban standsin a glass cage. His eyes, black rimmed halosof hazelnut and honey, are disengaged.He waits, as closed and silent as the doorsof the Mercy Gate. What would he ask me,shocked and awed by his dignity, as heis pawed by latexed hands that probe for bombsand contraband: Are you afraid? Do youbelieve your life is saved by my disgrace?He submits, as serene as Siloam,not creating a scene, not explodingin rage. I avert my gaze as I wait.But his eyes seize mine as the TSAdecides he’s harmless like me. His silenceseems to gauge the peril within my soulas I stand before him in my glass cage.
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