reaching for the dawn i suddenly collapse
as i feel the carpet pulled from below my feet
an unexpected noise woke me yet i imagined myself safe
only to search for balance and find nothing but fresh bruises
my limbs ripped from their sockets while i lay dazed
yet my life somehow extends as i am torn to nothing more than slices of myself
only alive at the edges though soon to become rived from the past

the touch of steel against my face resurrects me
and i drink in new reflections caressed by hands able to tear yet gentle
my bruises have healed and i no longer drink
though sunlight feels closer and more raw with each day
a welcome distraction yet i find myself returning to the hands
their blade not tearing but returning me to life with each contemplative movement
a shock yet somehow to be expected as i once again join my lost friends
a trip through an unpredictable looking-glass
reshaped yet unmistakable
perhaps destiny is more capricious than i had imagined
though it appears design may yet be intelligent in the afterlife

i had forgotten the joy of drinking my fill
the purity of liquid flowing through my every pore
reaching deep and darkening my impulses to echo the years i no longer count
whether heaven or hell i am still unsure
baking in the fire yet never smelling a single flame and suddenly
as if a god had been waiting for a sign within me to shift just slightly
lifted from the oppressive warmth and laid again on an altar for my sins

yet after careful preparation i am not sacrificed
venerated and touched with love and painted with attention
reunited and brushed by glimpses of forests in the distance
where my children surely must play
forgetting for the moment my absence in the sounds of birds playing between their fingertips
and my sacred duty is fulfilled not by knives plunged through my heart but devotion
aesthetic metamorphosis from rectilinear reshaping yet i remain myself losing nothing of the grain of my soul

uncountable years twist my dreams from memory
yet with each moment i drink more sunlight against my face and smile more deeply
skin shimmering more with age despite what the young would have us believe
perhaps only the effect of careful preparation
though that altar is so long ago i feel its touch only with the most tacit of feathery thoughts
though no fire came for my burned heart
and i was given new life in the sun
listening carefully to the voices surrounding me
unguarded as if i couldn’t hear
and in this instant i relive that falling day
when i thought myself pulled down to hell
and shiver
knowing no more of the afterlife now than all those moons ago

(this poem was composed in response to the “woodworking poetry” challenge from the shop talk live podcast from fine woodworking magazine.)

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thank you for reading. your eyes have done me a great honor today.