One friend decided to forego sugar for a month. Another the word wept.
A third quit therapy in favor of praising the aubergine tinge in the clouds
that served as backdrop to the tree limbs falling through his mother’s yard.
Sometimes I want to give up living by lists and information, yet I still want
to tell you how this morning I watched a man launch some kites on a beach.
When the wind had a good hold of one, he’d take a lighter to its string.
He must have doused them in gas beforehand because the flames ran fast,
caught the kites, and the ensuing red shreds frothed upon the vapors.
Listen, if you’ve never heard about the time Shakespeare got drunk,
snuffed the candelabra, and in its dark tried to wrestle every member of his cast,
that’s because damage had paired with sorrow even then. That fiasco was nothing.
Where he lived, the wind could change direction and for two whole weeks
the house would smell like gas. That’s half of how he came up with the mist
for Macbeth’s witches. The other half was theft. After the headaches passed,
everything in those fumes seemed like a dream. Even weasels lolled in the grass,
like pets built out of licorice. I don’t know how he invented the words
gust or radiance in such haze, but I’m glad for their perfection. The modern match
was perfected in 1805. Before that, every burn meant tinder, flint, and steel.
So that man igniting kites still could have done it by the Thames in 1597,
although I like to imagine whatever material he’d have used to build them
proved clumsy in the river’s wind, every flaming body rising no more
than a few yards before it plunged. Or maybe the fault lay with the wind. Listen.
Seeing them through the window, Shakespeare claimed the first one as his son.
The rest became the angels he renounced, hearing thereafter only human tongues.
Copyright © 2020 Charlie Clark
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.