I Took a Day to Myself from Sky to Throat : Poem

I Took a Day to Myself from Sky to Throat

I took a day to myself                         got into the car            and just

bought coffee and a donut                                                      and just drove

around for hours                     screaming in the dust

-filled air                                                                                 you can hear

it in my voice now. Above                                         Contra Costa, the settled

smoke

looked like the “Swamp of Sadness”

from the Never-Ending Story—minus           any dragons

or luck                                                             (these are things not to be found here.)

The round brown hill, a resting                                  turtle shell; do not disturb.

I went up to Lawrence Hall and looked                                 for my city

but that had been rendered                                                      by a nothing

a swift blanket of grey climbing

higher than the sun

and I was the only one there

and that had never happened before

the flowers      be        low                  a          back

roads.

There was an old man standing                      outside his car as I

took a swift turn. I think, for a second, he saw                                               me

and I saw                                                                                 him and maybe

he heard

the cacophony of noise                                                           noise

happening

outside of my car,                                                                  maybe he saw

the round O of my mouth.

At some point, as I circled

back

home, I thought

about another poem I wrote                                                                about

the smoke-ash

as people that we have loved.             I breathed

in harder, trying

to take in this loss

like

if I could taste                         them, then

they were not gone                                          and the trees

the hillsides.                The immensity                                    of everyone’s grief

could be breathed.                                                                   It could be breathed

in and held

and I could hold it

with these unearthly opera                                                                  lungs.

I don’t sing anymore but maybe

this instead could be my gift

registering                                                                               the sound of loss

and where it falls from sky to throat.