Heart of Glass

by Donald Britton

Donald Britton

Every act expresses a wish, surviving
A lot of living and shifting
Into new forms of a sad decorum
Like a science uncommitted to the facts:

Squinting into the sun like one
Getting old very fast, the past something
Made of bricks laid end to end
To the top of yon hill of waves

And sinking, thinking still of you
For whom no wave grieves, no radio
Goes dead, but mentioned in the
Acknowledgments for various kindnesses.

Then, awakening, the day is perhaps
Too young to hurt you, still adulterated
With remembered pain and hope
Whose emblem is the paradisiacal slope

Of light on the Poster Child's
Limp, empty sleeve. Either that,
Or the beautiful seed at the heart
Of an apple, which promises that this

Corny emotionalism can go on
Indefinitely, sluicing into the shape
Of its own ingenuity as light pours
Into its speed, the bubble you are

Floating in reducing all that floor plan
To wasted space, the gaudy interior
Of a Venetian bead painted to resemble
Someone's idea of how time would look

If the distances between things could be
Squeezed into a corner to make room
For what it takes from us, leaving behind
Instructions for reproducing the diorama

Exactly as it happened, in the same way
To each of them, so that in the end
Personal history was annihilated, ground
Into a very fine talc and gathered

Into structures of air that are always
Collapsing. Such was the benign, giddy
Environment in which Freddy found himself,
Though as yet somewhat queasy about

What the Fire-God had told him, feeling
Not unlike the disgorged meal of a panther,
Chewed by something black and terrible
But retaining his essential substance,

Putting all the rest behind him
Like a buried parent, to become the hero who,
Elated at the portrayal of things beyond his ken,
Shouldered his people's glorious future.

In The Empire of The Air

Last updated September 27, 2022