Yesterday I came awake
In the middle of my life
In the presence of
Two small and perfect things.
The girl that sleeps upon my chest
The boy that breathes
in the crook
of my right arm.
And I searched my remembrances
Of the days of my life
For great and virtuous action
That could have won so rich a prize
But though I see my face in theirs
There is nothing in my heart or mind
Worthy of the sight of them.
Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh
Or gift from beyond the orbit of the broken moon
I only know I could not have dreamt of
Stolen or begat
A thing half so precious
As this, the girl
And this, the boy.
So I do all that I am able
With thirty years’ strength and wisdom
To keep and defend my treasures
And lie, still as a stone
Eyes wide and wet
With wonder and with terror
Or the God that dreamt us wake.
There is an instrument
I have learned to play.
My fingers swift and calloused,
Know their fretwork in the dark.
I carry it always
Wrapped in polymer and steel
To spare the glass and brushed aluminum
Of this, my magic flute.
If you’ll sit and listen,
Then I will play for you
The song that we wrote together
In the last year of the war.
It’s the plainsong chant of everyday
New as the morning and old as death
Weddings and workdays
the birth of children and the breaking of bread.
It’s battle hymns and the Mourner’s Kaddish
Men in orange jumpsuits dying by the sea
Bullies and heresiarchs
And the earth in a fever that nothing can break
Call and response, call and response
Until the two harmonize
An apocalypse sung
In the voices of my friends
That forever crescendos but never resolves
A billion composers with no conductor
Scrolling down and down and down
But never finding bottom.