by Rick Bursky
I'm reading at the Library of Congress on October 9 at noon. The topic is magic and magicians. I get to read my own and others'works. This is one of the Bursky poems I plan to read.
He doesn’t mind the whistle of pain
being sucked from his head by a breeze,
though occasionally he wears a hat.
It’s the way he surrounds himself in solitude
when his hair grows weary of responsibility
just as a field of prairie grass
tires of hiding a damaged landscape.
He knows the difference between a crutch
and a bowl of soup: a crutch is a wooden stick
a ruined man uses to poke at the world;
a bowl of soup is the mirror he stares into on Thursday night.
If the phone rings while he’s doing a crossword puzzle
the man might put his pencil in the hole then forget
where it is until it falls when he bends to tie a shoelace.
At a costume party, a rose stuck down in the hole, thorns taped to his shirt.
Each person asks how it happened and gets a different answer:
automobile accident, war wound, birth defect.
He knows more about empty spaces than anyone you’ll ever meet.
For instance, a hole, he wrote to a friend,
weighs twice as much as whatever it once held.
(from The Soup of Something Missing)
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