Prisons of Presence
There was, of course, no questioning
The smell: the impact of sound waves
And heat on nostrils creates an olfactory
Dread on the reptile brain like mother’s
Perfume; I mean, memories beyond
Nostalgia, somehow the knowledge
Of No Return, but there you are, in it.
Then, there was the searching; palms
In sand and soot, or blood and ash,
Feeling for glasses, maybe, feeling
To know the world is intact, or at least
The ground. To find my footing, I tested
My urge to pretend my legs were
Carousels: well-oiled machines, beloved
By children and grownups alike, kept
In tip-top shape to provide the illusion
We’re all fond of: perpetual legs,
Conveying; a ride on the music of spheres.
There are some stumps, and questions
That stump everybody, but not these
Stumps. And I sidestep around them,
Stuporous in all my experiences, before
And after, to be so incredibly present
My name and age are on pages in books
Still burning, my sex and race are layers
Of skin still sloughing, always about to
Lift like a veil and flit about, like valor.
Jake Sheff is a captain and pediatrician in the US Air Force, married to a Corri whom he produced a modern Maddie with. They, in turn, were adopted by four animals. Home is currently S. California. Poems of Jake’s are in Marathon Literary Review, Poydra’s Review, Foliate Oak, and elsewhere. A chapbook of his was published: Looting Versailles (Alabaster Leaves Publishing). He considers life an impossible sit-up, but plausible.