It’s quite a story we’ve told ourselves about ourselves,
Filled with foolishness and heroism, mirth and squalor,
Good guys and bad. We were that second ruler in the
Third dynasty who killed his brother to get the job and
Was done in by his mother for compromising his sister.
We were Alexander running out of worlds to conquer,
We crossed Rubicon after Rubicon, watched them sail
West, joined Crusades, and found cures. We blessed
Troops going into battle and our dead afterwards. We
Invented and built, bombed and restored. Our story
Tells of egos as big as Bonaparte’s, as small as a saint’s;
It finds the bodies we hid and our kindness mid-disaster,
The mountains we climbed and the forests we leveled.
History walks us through our many selves, points out
The times we failed and the times we didn’t, admits to
Weaknesses and shortcomings, tells what we have done,
Makes us memorize things we did, tests us over and over:
Who did this, who did that, how many were there and how
Many were left after what we did what we did? History is
A frightening tale that builds itself all around us as we read,
We are trapped in this new chapter, stuck between these
New pages, ink barely dry, drying as we speak, as we guess
About what’s next and what we will think of ourselves
When we read about us then.
The floor tilts and turns
angles away, jars and jolts,
then begins to sway.
This isn’t the way
It’s supposed to be.
Now, when it’s me
in this slant
in this humbling, stumble
this tumble and toss
that time has done
Distances blend it
lend it a bit of grace,
a bit of humor
it doesn’t deserve.
Up close when I’m part
of it, it loses the laugh
I know, I can hear.
The stairs catch me
stretch and bend
ask me to sit a bit,
take the load off,
but the mind doesn’t
work that way
at least, not today.
How do rooms lose
their shape, like this?
What happened to the door?
When did light become
This flow, this river
I can’t swim in, anymore?
J. K. Durick is presently a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Literary Juice, Napalm and Novocain, Third Wednesday, and Common Ground Review.