Tuesday, January 19, 2010

House of Cards

-for Stephanie and Ed and their firstborn

I’m gathering the stories
like playing cards,
stacked up high,
others laid out by suit,
the one-eyed jack and the false king, side by side.

They are the stories I will tell you,
when you are born
and old enough to understand stories,

of family, and dark spaces,
of jealous kings, and what lurks under bridges,
of tracks traced in the snow, secret rings,
and sleeping women who don’t wake up.

And these stories will belong to you,
and you will carry them with you,
in the space that we all have in our ribcages,
where we keep the stories,

and if you are lucky,
you will remember them
as I have.
And they will feed you,
as they have fed me.

And you will stand at a street corner one day,
waiting for the bus,
a ticket clenched tight in your hand,
your coat in the other,
and you will wonder about these stories
why they were so fascinating
but you will also know, deep down inside,
a truth you aren’t able to say aloud.

And we will all be gone.
You will be older then, older than any of us are now,
and you will board the bus and the doors will hiss closed behind you,
and it will lurch forward
down a road you have always avoided
but are now, as ready as you will ever be to travel.

You will think they are your stories,
but in time you will realize it is what kept you alive.
I thought that too, in the days before you were named, but
they do not belong to anyone, these stories,
we belong to them.

You will take a seat on the bus, next to no one.
Your lips will move as if you are praying,
the machine will rattle forward and at that single moment
the story will start all over again.

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