Three Things You Knew Before I Did (a fictionalized truth)

August 14, 2007 at 11:51 pm | Posted in allegory of the cave, bob dylan, breakups, daffodils, ex-boyfriends, fictionalized truth, old writing, wordsworth | Leave a comment


I remember the allegory of the cave.
Sitting next to each other in class
We drew pictures in the margins of our notebooks
of fires and chains.
“Let me show in a figure how far
our nature is enlightened or unenlightened.”

We had no idea which side we fell on.

That night you made shadows on the wall.
Laying in bed I saw
a rabbit, and then
a bird.
Your hands made a dinosaur that nibbled at my stomach.
The truth would be literally nothing but the shadows…
It took us so long to appreciate that.

If you were the shadows then what was I?
You pulled the covers up over our heads
“You, my dear, are the fire. And this is our cave.”
In our cave we knew nothing but the outlines of hips and necks.
And they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another,
which the fire throws on the opposite wall.

If you were the shadows then I was certainly the fire.

But you knew before I did how cruel a silhouette can be.
Morning always came in the end,
until it came for the last time.
By then our cave was tangible,
by then our cave was a home.
Last he will be able to see the sun, and he will contemplate him as he is.
And we were as we were.


I remember our happiest day
lying on a blanket by the river.
We deconstructed every cloud,
finding architecture in every wisp,
and you said it reminded you of a poem.
I wandered lonely as a cloud…

We gave the new forms names:
a teacup,
a bicycle rider,
a wizard holding a staff.
You traced a heart on my leg with your finger and said,
“You are my cloud, and this is how you are shaped.”
Continuous as the stars that shine…they stretched in never ending line.

If I was your cloud, then what were you to me?
The air smelled of flowers that day,
and you grazed my neck with your lips and said
that it was me that smelled the sweetest.
“As lovely as a spring flower,
bare feet and all.”
A host of golden daffodils; beside the lake, beneath the trees…

But you knew before I did how untamed the wind is.
The teacup never stays a teacup,
the bicycle loses it’s rider,
the heart is lost in motion.
They flash upon that inward eye, which is the bliss of solitude.
If I was your cloud, you should never have been my breeze.


I remember our most despondent night:
Playing a album we both loved
we were unable to dance together
like we always had before.
Isn’t it just like the night to play tricks
when you’re trying to be so quiet?

It was so near the end that I felt it
in every skip of the record.

When we turned out the lights
we left the music playing.
You flipped the record as soon as it stopped
even though you know
I like the static hiss at the end of each side.
We sit here stranded,
though we’re all doing our best to deny it.

You played that record while your song to me was ending.

If your singing was done, was mine done too?
That night there was no sleep,
no shadows,
no clouds.
Inside the museums, infinity goes up on trial
voices echo this is what salvation must be like
after awhile.

I understood then: you would be gone in the morning.

You knew before I did how ugly the gospel truth can be
when you read it too late.
Lights flicker from the opposite loft.
In this room the heat pipes just cough.
The country music station plays soft,
but there’s nothing, really nothing to turn off.

Those hymns of us were over,
and all I could do was listen
to the hiss on the stereo
and try to forget what I never really knew.


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