For Charlie

Because I have not died by my own hand
or someone else’s.

Because I have a little bowl of almonds from Spain,
and even with a chip in it, the bowl’s blue rim
reminds me of things unbroken.
And because I can eat every single one without counting
knowing there will be more.

Because I have managed to wind up here, with you in the sunset
window-light as though you’re covered with Lycaena phlaeas,
the copper butterfly brought here long ago and from afar, glowing
in the sun, and because there are lilies on the glass table
curving out and around themselves,
white-petaled acrobats in a silent room.

Because I live where nights are rocketed through
with trains and not with rockets.

Because when the train derailed, you were not on it.

Because when traffic stood still in the heat for four hours,
then five, it was not you who had flown through a windshield.

Because with you come the twins stitched together
with shining copper thread, canyons of human
echoing each other, freckles of laughter
that echo against walls even after they’ve gone—
enough to carry us through our apocalypses, any kind of fire.

Because we don’t have to carry ourselves across a dead landscape,
leave behind what we can’t carry, pressing our feet against sand
and mirages, guns at our back or thinking only of the miles ahead.

Because we have been spared, if not all those we’ve known.

Because when we turn out the lights
night birds sing an eerie lullaby we can’t decipher
with our own languages, our hands or our mouths.

Because there is an imaginary child buried somewhere
in our minds who might come tottering toward us one day
with a face we can’t imagine now.

Because now some of the time I can sleep
unafraid and with the luxury of believing
in something other than the right-now.

Because sometimes I can say yes instead of, I don’t know.