from Winter: aphorisms
by Sarah Vap
Someone cries every few minutes in our family
for the past four and a half years. My older son is crying because he has to go upstairs
to get dressed. My younger son is crying because he can’t go upstairs.
King Lear, I tell them,
said Never never never never never. King Lear, I tell them, like all of you
said No no no. King Lear, they say back, their fingers curled
by their noses like sneaky rats, their noses curled
and both of the little boys
walking like creeps on their tiptoes, as if we are each
(I see them signal) God’s loosening spies—
Dada, come ah-on! Says the baby waggling all his fat fingers at Dada. Dada, come on, says his older
brother more clearly. I am the pattern of all patience! he replies. Jesus,
I remind him, first revealed himself a king
at a wedding.
Revealed himself at the wedding, my husband replies,
between the fat and bones
of the king who is locked
inside too many skins.
Between the wine wearing thin
at midnight and the miracle wine—, I declare, became king
of the bride and the bridegroom, king
of that bed. Put ladder
on fire truck? Yes, sweetheart, I continue: he slipped
to the bed of their bodies, slipped to the bed
of their ordinary marriage and between even
those lovers making love, I tell my son, he was king.
_____They were three kings, their mouths touching,
my husband raptures, the lover-kings—.
he throws the fire truck to the floor, pissed, not for lovers!
That the marriage for the pirate to the soldier,
my son continues, and it cuts off their heads.
Where a person might pause—
that is the mercy. Child. With no stop
there is no mercy: and our own
lives in it. Women
reveal themselves in children.
reveal themselves in deeds and acts
or even the coherence
of his mind. The coherence
of the mind of the child. Cohering
of the man and the woman or thus
the coherence of the child: to flatten,
to encroach, or to retreat.
Night carries the stars as it turns. As water
is moved slowly by cupped hands—
the family moves through each night: the family is a clear
sphere. Inside all the other clear spheres
and holding within itself
all the clear spheres and all of them turning
clocks. Mama, I have to go potty. Okay sweetheart. And all the moments
of every clock are the unfolding
or the loosening mind. Correct and test
the folds and unfolds
against your life. Mama, I’ll yell
when you have to wipe my butt. Against a broader commonwealth:
of moans, slipping. Slipping through the humans.
Slipping through the animals.
Slipping to the rock— moans.
that you may
or you may not know.
Mama, poop is coming out of my butt.
Does that make you real happy?
Slipping, we will lose winter, altogether. Our home, just a few feet
from the melt-off of one of the world’s last glaciers: there will be the moment
when it actually stops.
To freeze, I tell my son, is not the same
as to stop.
Slipping, we will lose winter, altogether. The whole
of the mountain will lose winter.
The mind will lose winter as our world becomes—. Night is the mind
that cools in the earth’s shadow.
We’re held inside that shadow
for exactly the time needed
to distill a particular star out
of the greater light of the sun—we’re held within night
exactly the lengths and cuts of time needed to dim
that mind of the sun.
That’s a pirate fallen into the water.
And that’s a terrible pirate crawling over a log.
That’s a volcano and that is a hole of fire.
Yes, the hole of fire.
Tonight the snow
floated upward into
incessant rain while the neighbor’s lost peacock wept
and our cup runneth—it’s true, what they say: the cock
calls out to you and me like a baby sobbing.
And after the long rain.
And after that
a break in the falling— and the long
gray month. And another. And the daytime
barely distinguishes itself from the night. Then maybe
silence as all the parts
move smoothly across and together and apart
from one another. Remember: thrumming,
mingling, windswept, once
when there was only my mind
and no other mind. And only at night and when the night broke
into day— and in the day there was actual light.
is what showed the way
to the New World: the stars commanded this way. Oskar,
oh, little son of the sky— son holding the fat baby son’s hand
through the snow: we point out the milky way. Oskar, I tell him,
the mind of night and the mind of light, they
brought us to this. Brought us this reciprocal looming unreadable map
we point you toward.
They made us this way.
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