WHEN YOU WERE BORN
By Colin Dodds     Cardiopolis Floating through the world
dispensing permission
unknowingly

Cranes raise houses, office boxes
bivouacs for a war not yet agreed uponBuildings like the stock exchange
blossom in the snow

At midday in midtown
towers pose for their ruinThe city from any distance at all—
its surges, precipices, idiosyncratic ridges
repetitions and anomalieslike an EKG in three dimensions
like the shape of a lifeThe more you look at it
the harder it becomes to even ask
which parts matter
    When You Were Born
for Miriam Bridget DoddsWarm weeks,
fat men with chests out
bob down the street like sails full of windDigitized fetal heartbeats
mingle with cicada-chitter
and dry leaves across concreteMy landlady peeks from her door
to see the blood moon in eclipse
Inside, my wife struggles near the end
of her nine monthsBusy, tired, travelling, poor—distance
is the rain, the surface of the contract I sign,
crossing my fingers like that means anythingNature steps from her accustomed highwaysides
window boxes and green-scummed piers
in civilized September
her voice rattling my pores

Marking time in fluids, there were clear warnings
day-long classes and dreamsPassing a night in a B-52 bomber
the whole horizon erupts, and the pilot says
“They’re making room for a baby”The temple crumbles as the infant escapes
past the distorted corpses of her co-adventurers
through cobwebs and familiar perils
with a golden artifact of untold value
somewhere on her person

It arrives unsurprising as autumn
in the soupy air of an Indian summer
right about when we stopped calling it thatIt sends me spinning, rushing
baffled among car-service dispatchers
in the last September we had such men

A lot at once
A greeting card and trench warfare
and it’s all one thingTerror and love mingle, fuse
in the bloodgleam
congealed into hair, shaven for surgery
but just a patch, then skin open and closed all at once
eyes shaped by ten thousand generations
of looking away and looking againNo more delay no distance or affectation
I catch sight of my own face, the one 
that doesn’t care about the music or food I eat
what I think of the state of civilization
and whether I’m ecstatic
or in endless, ash-black agonyThat’s the one who shakes her head
at the wondrous dreams of meaning dreamt
not disappointed but amazed at the dreamingThat’s the one who continues after I disappear

The great chain of weeping catches
and draws the scenery along

The first few weeks, her tiny hands attack her
through an unknown territory to sleep
the blue vein of dreams visible under her cirrus hairAwash in mercy and emergency
the minds of mother and father attack them regularly
murmuring urgent assurancesIt is easier to soothe
an infant than our own mindsAnd one afternoon, pondering an invitation,
we speak of our newborn daughter’s wedding
and weep because having thought of it, it’s occurred
and our lives already come and goneSomewhere, an archaeologist packs mud
on our last standing complaint

For my tiny daughter, hunger
and lamp fascination are undivided
within a single unbounded question
and a single unbounded knowingTogether, we listen to the shortwave static
of the November radiator
and I hum the things I don’t want to explain
that she blessedly couldn’t understand if I triedTiny bright eyes relay all the majestic world
back to an administrative office in heaven
across distances spanned in a stanza
or never spanned at allShe turns bagels into giggles
and squawks like a happy parrot
toothless mouth full of lightDoing nothing much, she informs me:
We are not here for anything
We are here, and everything is for that     About the Author:colin doddsColin Dodds is a writer from Massachusetts. His novels include WATERSHED and The Last Bad Job, which the late Norman Mailer praised as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” His work, appearing in more than three hundred publications, has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Anthology. The poet and songwriter David Berman (Silver JewsActual Air) said of Dodds’ poetry: “These are very good poems. For moments I could even feel the old feelings when I read them.” His book-length poem That Happy Captive was named a finalist in both the Trio House Press Louise Bogan Award and the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award, and his screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the American Zoetrope Contest. Colin lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and daughter. You can find more of his work at thecolindodds.com.
 


 
  
 

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