Leaning into the Afternoons

The Bottom Line

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Birmingham, 2005

The bottom line is the spilled wine
The ruby lake on the table
Dripping on my knees
Like the tears of a blind man
Who newly sees

The bottom line is the familiar ache
Too real to shake
Too hard to explain
Too easy
Like a prism of colors in the rain

The bottom line is the warm blood
That seeps its way out of my cold heart
To the beat of a drum
Always carried
All the time
Always a rhythm rhyming inside
Making me a tall, awkward song

The bottom line is the sometimes welling up in the eyes
That the noisy world
All too eagerly dries
With whatever it happens to be selling
At the time

Or is the bottom line this?
Beauty and terror on a dreamed date
Moving each other close
Dancing a slow motion universe bending down sarabande
Locked staring into each other’s eyes
As if for the first
Or the last
Time

The bottom line is some unknown, unspoken word
I need another word
For that which comes out of nowhere
So good
Like a smiling child
Glimpsed in a room full of strangers
A room full of good things to eat
As if it has all been somehow prearranged:
She’s smiling at me
Even though we both know
We’ll never meet