The Lyre

A pencil and pencil sharpener on a notebook
Do you remember poetry before meaning?
I think I do. 
For a moment, let’s be young poets again, writing in college-ruled notebooks, 
metaphorically. 
I type everything these days. 

The more we’re together the better I remember 
the smell of a new composition book, and the sound:
its taped-up spine breaking. 
You can do things to your own words
that you’d never dare do to someone else’s. 
So let’s torture some words, you yours and me mine. 
We’ll bend them into curlicues, choke them until they’re purple. 
I can say ‘our darkness matches,’ and maybe you’ll say
‘we’re matches in the darkness.’
And we’ll laugh like there isn’t a little truth to the drippy sentiment 
we wrote long ago 
in our backbroken notebooks. 

Putting them aside, with their furious scratch-outs and
trapped pencil shavings, 
didn’t kill poetry. 
We are not obligated, Paul or Saul or whoever you were
to see through any glass, darkly or otherwise. 
To look ahead at a reflection behind, quavering
by one another’s shoulders. 
And maybe our cobwebby corners do align, just like we wrote when we were younger. 
(our darkness matches)
Yes, maybe those line up, and the places filled with soft polyester blankets,
and swearing in traffic,
mothers,
cell phone brands,
opinions on going barefoot,
our fears,
what to make for dinner. 
Which is all to say that some do and some don’t. 
But we’re facing each other, looking for
what won’t fit between college-ruled lines. 
And I might wonder aloud why Orpheus didn’t just bring a damn mirror, then
maybe I (still taking pages from old notebooks) 
expect you to say, “Because we all have to face each other.”
But instead you say:
“Because he was an idiot,”
and behold! Poetry springs back to life!