ending on a line by Sharon Olds
Oh selective inhibitor
of serotonin uptake and my guilt.
Inner space capsule, unbitter pill,
blithe message in a bottle.
I hesitate to call you “Savior” for fear
of sacrilege—but, come to think of it,
blasphemy doesn’t seem half as bad
as it used to be. Have you destroyed
my conscience, or inhibited
my paranoia? They say rampant anxiety
has leaked you into suburban wetlands,
the predatory behavior of frogs and
the foraging urge in Great Blue Herons.
I don’t know how you work
once your gel shell dissolves
in my bellyful of morning coffee,
but models of your molecules look to me
like off-kilter Stars of David hooked to
dragon tails. I imagine each tail
propelling its double stars upward
through carotids, the Circle of Willis,
and on into the vault of my wrinkled mind.
Maybe chemistry’s just another name
for God—your armada sailing through
the blood-brain barrier, each Star of David
mirror to a neural ending.
And there they dock, molecular
rabbis minding the gaps,
blocking messages from the void,
allowing the gentle anointing
of serotonin while singing
the Shirat HaYam. Horse and rider
he threw down, and the depths congealed
in the heart of the sea. So this afternoon
I am able to sit in stillness
on a park bench and watch the heron
that may or may not be experiencing
dizziness, dry mouth, and a decreased libido
as it stabs at its own reflection. See
how my eyes get wet when I say it:
I am sane.
—from Rattle #63, Spring 2019
Craig van Rooyen: “The fact is, we lose stuff all the time. If you’re lucky, it’s just your wallet. Tomorrow it could be your dog. At some point, it will be your mother. One of the jobs of a poet is to make music out of loss. That last sentence sounds pretty and is kind of philosophical, which is why it would never work in a poem. It’s also probably offensive to someone who has just experienced a big loss. A good poem, on the other hand, makes a sound that readers recognize as their own. I write to come closer to making that sound.”