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Notes Toward Basic Betterness

The way the anglerfish might rather be
just the light it hangs in the Atlantic night,

or the moon might want to live as only
the cloistered stones adored by NASA,

today in this inner-life dusk I’d like
to become a smaller, simpler portion of myself.

Pretty soon now the day will dim down
to its little black dress and slink toward darker needs,

lurching high-heeled with a cruel thug ’til dawn
and smashing all the neighbors’ windows.

For once, inner bitterness, I think I’d like
not to forgive it, exactly, but at least allow its fact—

the way the girl burned by the bombings learns
to live only among her basic beauties,

and not the way the pilot opening the hatch
inhabited entirely the motive for the war.

What today wants, maybe, is no part of itself
at all, but the idea of its dayness,

like the couple in bed who want so much
to be for an hour the space they’ve built between them.

How every atom envies light.
How the moon, now that I think of it,

might rather be the golf ball abandoned on its surface,
or one just like it: a dimpled concept of itself

the people of Earth can hold and consider,
so it might feel at last what I

am feeling for you right now,
secret reader.

Posted 11/10/14
from THE NIGHT WE'RE NOT SLEEPING IN (Sarabande, 2014, http://www.sarabandebooks.org/new-forthcoming/the-night-were-not-sleeping-in-sean-bishop-2). First published in Carolina Quarterly, winter 2011.
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