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We watched in secret once, you and I,
As the dancer turned through many veils.
With each revelation, the light became strange,
Each face different from the ones beneath.
Down the same street this morning,
The world loses its dust---
A painter once kept a photograph for years,
Adding bright new things with careful brushstrokes
In patient daily worship.
And we held each other in a small cold room
As an MRI strobed through pictures,
Ablating colorless layers of flesh and pith,
Strange white shapes that darted through ink.
The world paints over absences,
This day different from the ones beneath.
It is a careful art with a veneer of sameness---
Old streets that lead you to strange places,
Old smiles gone, for which new ones must be fashioned.
And so life scintillates like a rolling, faceted foam,
Technicolor membranes joining today
To a crowd of countless other possibilities.
Among such bright colors, I sometimes dare to imagine
The believer adding a few careful brushstrokes,
A morning caught in glass; I would find you awakening---
It is easy to believe that the air stands still
In these rainbowed interiors, the cupfuls of peace
That hold silent and close to us, and breathe gently
And breathe, suspended like soap bubbles,
But by and by, certainties become sediment,
Foam-flecked outcrops of familiarity
Becoming strange with the river’s turning.
This, then, is the world’s ablution:
That when beloved pieces of this life
Should tumble into the foam,
We find new pieces in the layered silt of the riverbed,
Drowsing deep in worlds that might become,
That despite the safety of fiction,
We dare to imagine pulling the lifeline
inch by inch, breath by breath,
Onto the shores of this place where we might ruin them.