Murdered and drowned eyes
Queue up to me in my sleep
In the cold dark waters that flow
Underground and connect us all
In our labyrinthine womb—
Their hands wear marriage bands
And promise rings— Their lips
Cry out strange words beneath the
Frigid world, as they seem to
Want me there. Beneath them I can
See pale houses settled in small yards
With one cypress tree pressed into
Each manicured lawn, and rippling
Driveways decorated with
Landscaping, little fish-like children,
And cars— And I know I should go
Drown with them, to let them show me
How to become a professional in this
Middle-class estuary— It wouldn’t
Take long for me to stop breathing,
And then to learn the recreations of the dead—
To move about in schools in the diaphanous
Vail of dreams semi-fulfilled, to do all those
Things successful people strive for altogether
In lakes underground, collectively holding their breath—
Here, where I can see my wife waiting in the
Wavering lawn, bodice full with promises of
Gurgling chastity, and my children sprawled
Like marble fawns drowned in a flooded creek—
But I will not go to these tonight, if only because
I do not know how to swim so blindly—
So, fearing responsibility’s bottomless embrace, I
Feint into lonelier pools that swirl away
In the reeds and shallows— Where, in warmth dawned,
My own mermaid sunbathes for my eyes….

by Robert Rorabeck

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