grace notes

grace notes
by Stepahanie Christie

Sometimes, the past unsettles itself, shakes
and lies down again in a new position.
Your story can start to come unstuck
and the work left undone turns into bad men
that you run from or become, or both.

The redemption does seem to keep standing off
a similar distance away. It’s like chasing rainbows
but not as clearly ridiculous.

We gain technical skills in fixing first world
problems which are still enough to sink you
into the ocean of invalids and the bitterest heart.

The institution is inside our throats.
Its spirochetes drill in till body and mind
oblige. We oblige. We are obligated.
Duty’s a dead word. Now we have responsibility.
Now we have key stakeholders. Now we have our heavy dreams.

Do not follow any instructions.
Hold me back in the shade where there is light.
Negativity inflects our speech with a kind of glory,
what we’re surviving, smart as children at getting out
of power’s way. We hate what we can’t have.

Often, in classic dress, we try to rise.
We make sense out of stones and sort recycling
and achieve and assess and are competent
within a time window, and on a strict budget.
The language wraps round the chest like a bandage.

When you touch the screen and something happens
this is why you asked to be born right here and now.
The storms will be fantastic, like you can’t imagine.
You may be married and divorced as often as you like
in a strict logical order with a binary switch design.
There are lots of ways in if that’s where you’re going.

Self-reflection leads to self-consciousness.
Loss soaks into the dirt, already wet with winter.
Worms move slowly in the cold clod.
Our moon shrieks at the window
which shuts tight now we’re grown up
and can pay good rent.

I sharpen the knife like you showed me.
Whatever you make of this, make it straight
and a double. Intense moderation
makes sense, a sort of hypnotism.
Our precious business is to stand
each day as it comes.

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