Matthew Zapruder

This Handwriting

This afternoon I heard
the small voice speaking again,
though no one was there.
I could not hear the words
though from the helpless
complicated tone I knew
it was something like
someday you will realize
you already know you must go
elsewhere to be free.
Maybe the white island
with just a few necessary buildings
you saw once from above
as if you were flying.
All your friends in gentle
laughing disputation are already
waiting. For now I settle
for trying to picture
each of their faces.
But when I close my eyes
I just keep seeing this horrible
actual sunny floor I have
scattered pages of my handwriting
on, searching for a pattern.
And also this table. Upon
it lies a yellow book containing
a translation of the half-burned
gospel that says often Jesus
kissed Mary on the mouth.
Reading it makes me feel
as if the true future like the son
of a dethroned king long ago
hid in a cave, trying to silence
its breathing. The great
black indeterminate stallion
pounded implacably by.
Now there is only silence
like in an auditorium after
a modern composition
had just finished perfectly
destroying our foolish
cherished ideas of music.
When I think very hard
about my thoughts they seem
to me to be very small horses
attached to invisible reins
attached to facts. And what
of my memories? Like sleeping
in daylight. A decade ago
I lived in Massachusetts
like a shallow terrible installation
leaking smoky versions
of myself, each in turn
emitting weak soluble ideas
like people care only because
they do not even know
they feel they must. And now
I am here in California,
happy to be though always
part of me is thinking of my friends
and their shadows, patiently
waiting for my shadow to join them.

Matthew Zapruder
“This Handwriting” first appeared in A Public Space.