Tell Me Today Is the Day to Believe in Something
You don’t know this yet, but it’s when the train crawls up & out
of its tunnel that I stop reading, when the morning sun shines
through the door’s oval window & forms a geometric country
of light on the floor. I’ve given up believing in visions. Yesterday
I told my class the mind’s muscle is incapable of inspiration. I was tired
& raw, without sleep. They reminded me that the sound of the word love
is softer than that of hate & I was saved. Someone must’ve thought
of that, someone long ago, that, for all this jag against our ragging,
the way I had a friend who said a year never went by where he didn’t
punch a guy in the face, we each want a fine dose of softness, a cloud to hold
our weight against come morning. Love can be both light & what it
illuminates, a man’s ankles on the train shined in brown & bruise.
I lean my head against the air & long for your shoulder. A body
needs its daily push of gravity to keep it from floating into space.
This is both fact & metaphor. When I put my head on your skin,
I am caught in your trim orbit & you are held down by my gravity.
What I mean is this poem is for you. I’ve been thinking of you
all morning to keep myself from running too far away from the world’s
ache, how, one day, not too long ago, you said we cannot be hopeless,
& I replied we aren’t love. I realized I needed a comma, but it was too late.
There’s a gap of air between us where our words hang, typed up & wrong.
It’s not always enough, what a poem can do. Once, my mother wrote me a letter
with promises she would never keep. Later, I prayed the rosary for the first
& only time. Nothing changed. I know now the sin of prayer, how it makes
you realize a question asked is not always an answer gained, how an infinity
exists beyond our longing – the gap between what we want & where we are
swirling with the endless possibility of how. I dream so much of a love without
worry, but if our bodies are each countries, I know too the topography of living
aches with the glacial changes this world hurries at its own slow pace.
You long for valleys. You are given mountains. At the bank of a creek
you perfume your body with the petals of a flower someone planted long ago.
The train becomes a pool of light you wish to be buried in the moment
you rush back underground. My mother is better now, but it was a long road.
I think now, how long is both your act of wanting & the distance you must travel
to arrive. When I said we aren’t love, I meant we aren’t (comma) love.
When I said we aren’t love, I was trying to tell you how much we are.
Devin Gael Kelly
Devin Gael Kelly is is the author of the books Blood on Blood (Unknown Press), and In This Quiet Church of Night, I Say Amen (CCM), and the winner of a Best of the Net Prize. He is the Interviews Editor for Full Stop and co-hosts the Dead Rabbits Reading Series in New York City. He works as an afterschool director in Queens, teaches at the City College of New York, and lives in Harlem.