Would you leave it, then, leave it all behind,
take nothing but an apple and the open road
and what you’re standing up in (even a change
of clothes, of shoes, being too much freight
for the liberation of this light new way)?
Would you wrack, in going, your old life’s webwork,
feeling the snap as each drawn strand
reaches some secret limit and lets go?
Would you know, in the early weeks and miles,
some heady freedom, going your way
on a whim or a coin-toss, scrabbling your meals
light-fingered or by luck or miracle,
making your bed where the nightfall finds you,
waking with the sun and without fixed plans,
shedding fears, eschewing mirrors,
seeing it all for the very first time?
Would you go on, drunk on brief acquaintance
and the endless vanishings of the horizon,
stoned by the roll of day to night to day,
until you sense that finer net
cast in the wake of every other face –
a loop of feedback amping touch to slap
and speech to shouting, love to prison,
liking to demand – and think you comprehend?
Would you shun all ties in some bleak fastness,
slip last bonds of custom with your shoes,
your coins, your name, only to find
a screen impeding: your mind drawn round
like a curtain, one day tautly thrummed
with the buzz of struck drumskin, one day slack
as the wattled folds of an old throat,
but always a veil between you and what’s real?
Would you learn, at last, that any heart
will shred to tatters when what hauls it on
is some crazed engine hulking in the dark
of what it can’t unlearn and can’t outrun?
Would you ask yourself what’s real?, look down
and stare at the empty, dirty palms
of the hands upturned in a mocking question,
the feet that bore you nowhere, here?