“Glimpse” by Alan Fox

Alan Fox


          After Mrs. Henderson Presents

Auto-immune disease rages
throughout the world tonight
as cells at war in a single body—
call it diabetes, call it AIDS—
kill each other off.

The search for a cure rages
throughout the world tonight
as scientists search for antidotes—
call them antibiotics, call them forever—
with the real disease undiagnosed.

We know each other not
in days or years, but moments
when the outer shell divides, to reveal
as in the flickering shots of a movie
when Judi Dench pirouettes with her feather boas.

It is the glimpse of her
telling herself she is young
telling herself life is ahead—
call her foolish, call her wise—
I know her as only a brother can.

So when my phone rang last Sunday
and it was my birthday and I knew
I would need to smile and say—
call me conformist, call me a liar—
“Thank you, I’m having a wonderful day.”

Today was better than yesterday
when I didn’t arrive at work until three
and people’s bodies seemed hulking strange—
call it depression, call it ennui—
they seemed to assault me, not with intent.

One, a few, and many of my parents’ “no’s” delivered
when I was young taught me what you expect:
to glimpse a certain part of me—
and no more, I call you human, I call you strange—
the cell of me attacks the cells of you and we kill each other off.

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006

Rattle Logo