Lapse

Jorie Graham

It is entirely in my hands now as it returns like blood to remind me –
the chains so soft from wear, in my right, in my left –
the first time I, trying for perfection, of balance, of symmetry,
strap your twenty-two pounds of eyes, blood, hair, bone – so recently inside me –
into the swing – and the sun still in the sky though it being so late
as I look up to see where this small package is to go
sent up by these two hands into the evening that won’t stop
won’t lower as it should into the gloam is it going to last forever,
and the grace that I feel at the centre of my palms
as if my hands were leaves and light were coursing through
some hole in their grasp, the machine of time coming in,
as chlorophyll could – I was not yet so tired of believing –
I was still in the very beginning of being human,
the thing no one can tell another – he didn’t find
what he searched for, she didn’t understand what she
desired – the style of the story being the very wind
which comes up now as I glide down the chains
to the canvas bucket to pull you to me,
eyes closed as your eyes close, and for the first time in this lifetime
lift you back and up as far as I can, as high as I can,
then let you collapse so suddenly as I push you away from me,
with more force than gravity as I summon from within
what I try to feel is an accurate amount, a right fraction, of my strength,
not too much promise, not too much greed or ambition
or sense of beginning or capacity for dream – no – just
the amount to push you by that corresponds to pity,
who knows how to calculate that strong firm force,
as if I were sending a message forth that has to be delivered
and the claimant expects it, one of so many,
accompanied by my prayer that you be spared
from anything at all, from everything, and of course also its opposite,
that everything happen to you in large sheets of experience
as I tug back the chain-ends and push you out
telling you to put out your legs and pump
although you do not know what I am saying
as you have not yet spoken your first word,
not yet on that day that seems even now it will never end
as you come back to me and I catch you and this time of course
as I am human I push a little harder
as if the news I was shouting-out had not quite been heard,
as if the next push were the real one the one that asks for
the miracle – will I live or die if I pick this fruit
as it is sent back to my waiting hands and this time
it’s stronger, the yes is taking over, your yes and my yes and our
greed to overcome what, into this first-ever solstice
with you in the born world,
let no one dare pick this fruit I think
as I cast the roundness of you up again now so high
into a mouth of sky agape yet without wonder
as if it eats everything and anything and does not know what day is
or time – this is our time – or that this next-on meal is being fed it,
as just under you the oval puddle from the recent rain lies
in the worn declivity where each one before you
has dug in her feet to push off or to stop –
and in it you flash as you go by
giving me for that instant an eye you its iris blinking,
the crucible of a blink in the large unflinching eye,
eye opened by the hundreds of small hopes taking on gravity at push-off,
and then the fatigue when for all the pumping and rising,
and how you could see over the tops of the houses
up and over to where your own house is down there –
and the housing development, and the millions of leaves, and the slower children
                          lagging behind
on the small road beneath – until the world stills,
and you alone are life, a huge bloom, a new force entering –
how then – even then – the sensation of enough
swarms, and thought or something like it, resumes,
and your mind is again in your hard grip
on the chains which had been until then as if unknown to your body
during what might have been the interglacial lull,
or the period during which the original ooze grew single-cell organisms,
which grew small claws and feet and then had to have eyes,
till your hands become again hard, heavy, and all
the yearning re-enters you as lifetime,
and your feet learn to brake
by scratching the ground a bit more each time –
and that is where the eye comes from,
the final oscillations, the desire to be done with vision,
what this morning’s rain reminds us is still there beneath us
in an earth that will only swallow us entire
no matter what we push into it as here you and I again and again redo
the moment nine months ago you first began
to push and cry-out into the visible world.
It is here with me today in this hand grasping this pen
the weight of my transmission of force into you
the weight of catching you the first few times
the slow disappearance of your flesh from mine
as you hardly need a push when the centrifuge takes hold
and I just tap you a bit to keep you going
and we both feel the chains each in our own way
as they permit you to see over the given you shall never enter
no matter how long time is – never –
that gash you create in the evening air at your highest,
your own unique opening
which you can never fill,
cannot ever crawl back through and out,
except when that one moment comes and it will open and you will go,
once and once only and then, yes, you will.
I brought you in here I think in the evening,
in the grass and the town and the blinking windows,
in the dozens of lowering suns circling us in them.