Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2016  Vol. 15 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Planet of the Aged

From here in the milky dusk
where the fuselage of our lives
rusts and oxidizes, like the jalopies
of the 1940s and even the word
jalopy itself, decrepit and impotent
as an old can of Calumet,

we have become the carbuncles
on the pads of our fingers
and the sides of our toes.
We have become the cataracts
that spin and gristle,
candied on the lenses of our eyes.
Some of us are growing shrouds

to hide the raw sores that gather
and stick to our skin like friends.
We are a mute container of dwarves,
shelves of apple people, evicted from earth’s dearth
of astringent gold chicks who perk and step
and perk and step in heels of glass,
evicted from the celestial zenith of our lives,

rubbed from the instamatic photos
that mirrored the us that we always are,
and always were, now groomed
to wander the hallways like woozy moles,
strapped into chairs and beds
so our feet forget what running in grass feels like.
We still sing, some of us, like mottled warblers,

the rest are a colony of sleepers, sleeper-cars,
attached at the midriff by our injuries
and our memories;
by the knock-knock knocking
of the knock-knock jokes
marbling about in our heads;
knock knock,
who’s there?
Lettuce who?
Lettuce in, it’s cold outside!
We are still buttercups and daffodils,

we preen, we swim, and when we swim
we are quick as fish.
At night we take each other’s hands
and descend invisible staircases.
We glitter about
in a ballroom beneath you,
jeweled combs in our hair
and orchids in our buttonholes,

brooches pinned to our blouses,
not with slips of paper to remind us
of the names we were given long ago,
or the ones by which you have come
to know us, but the names
we always imagined most as ours—

we spin, we dance,
we fall into each other’s arms,
we fancy ourselves
real as each of you, asleep above us,
tinkling and laughing
all night long, all night long.  

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