“A Stitch in Time” by Donavon Davidson


A Stitch in Time

In another story
a boy is made
the funny shape of forgiveness.

A church pew
with little arms and legs.

Funny little smiles
where knees and elbows
secretly bend.

The sign of a cross.

A funny little tickle
of dirty bedclothes

in the back of the throat

whose sorry now.

In another story
a boy is playing dead.

Counting the stitches
that keep his head
from rolling off

into the sea.

*

I want to feel something dead
said the boy
with real hands.

Pants, soaking wet.
A pillow full of screams.
The monster under your bed.

And he does

what every little boy wants
to make sure

he isn’t alone.

But I can only be sorry
so many times,

sorry for the universe
trying to thread the needle

in his chest
to keep him still,

sorry for my button eye
dangling from my poor cheek.

The poor thing
jumping from a burning window
towards

the burning earth.

*

He counts to ten
before he comes

looking for me.

Ten little black X’s
where my mouth used to be.

Ten little treasures
still shinning in the fruit cellar.

Ten black scratches
on the face
of a watch.

Stitches in time.
Ready or not

and he finds me
in a world I had stolen

from the trees,

growing in two directions.

Both in places
where no one

sleeps.

*

In another story
a boy is God

under the bed.

Waiting for creation
to sneak up on him
and jump
under the covers

before he can get his hands
around its ankles.

He lies in his kingdom
of grass

itching

to make a doll to keep him company.

One with the same
green and pointed
expression.

In another story
a boy is a monster

drawing a red curtain
over creation.

Everyone is all cleaned up now
sleeping in the next room.

*

When I’m alone
I can take the straw
out of my chest

and have something quiet
to dance upon.

I tell myself
pay no attention to the boy
getting dressed

behind the curtain.

Which is good.

I’m tired of studying the universe
one stitch at a time,

tired of trying to brush away
the wings of flightless things

from the thin black thread
between my thighs.

I tell myself
pay no attention to the boy
flying above the bed.

He is only looking for courage
in the half empty glass
of my lips.

Which is good.

This isn’t a yellow brick road
you dumb scarecrow.

You don’t have the heart

to stop dancing
as if there’s not a bone

in your body.

*
The tracks are always
In the snow –

Discarded clothes
Bruises
Tranquilizers

The many ways of feeling good
about making it through

a thousand tunnels of love.

Drawing curtains.

Learning all about love
in just one night.

Growing up
in someone’s hand

when they strike
keys of an out-
of-tune piano.

Out there

little dead stars

in a little black shell
of a boy

that you can put to your ear

and hear the sound
of something drowning.

*

Somewhere in the middle of creation
I jumped from the roof
and flew over my bed.

I could see the lights
of a new city glittering

inside me.

Far away the universe
was expanding,

stretching its rope tighter
and tighter.

I think I’m falling in love.

His light is the last
to go out.

When it’s dark
he won’t recognize me.

I can stop pretending I’m a tree
and crawl back inside

his skin.

We can roll into the sea
and my arms won’t lift him
off me.

I’ll be pulled under
as he swims

like a butterfly.

*

Every morning I cut
the wings of flightless things

out of the snow.

I can see the angel
I left behind.

He lies on the ground
like all things

that surrender their flesh.

Things of water
and light

all want to run away
from where they were born,
but their hands are held

down

by children who die
in the night

and return in the morning
drenched in a terrible sweetness

no one ever talks about

until the sun goes away

and they trot out
their little black pillows

and smother their tiny
emptiness.

*

God is not so scary
when he stays inside

the closet.

In there
I can think

his voice will turn into something golden.

A broken alarm clock.
A whistle only dead dogs can hear.
A belt that keeps my pants up.

But he keeps ticking away.

And I’ve run out of places
to run out of.

And the mattress is too full
of needles

to sleep on.

Any minute the doors will open.

Any minute

is as good

as the next.

*

In another story
a boy turns his body
into a suitcase
tied with a black string.

Training the world
to let him leave
places that no longer exist

in his own box.

A tin can
dragging behind his wedding night.

A table
for a tea party
where smiles happen in funny places.

A pillow
for the sea, that it
may hear something rising and falling.

A bed
for the monsters
who must be so tired
of all their Heaven and Hell.

In a room with a broken window,
smoke pouring out.

In another story
a boy’s body is just a stone,
an anchor,

an arrow

making a point.

A thing of water,
of light.

He’s not done flying.

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——

Donavon Davidson holds an MFA from Goddard College, and his poetry has been published, or is soon to be published, in: 3:AM, Anti-, Arch, Anemone Sidecar, Pedestal, WordRiot, MiPOesias, Stirring, Evergreen Review, Barnwood International Poetry Magazine, Quay: A Journal of the Arts, Holly Rose Review, and SNreview. He currently lives in Vermont where he teaches writing at the Community College of Vermont.