Photograph by Nick Lachance

before i go
i will steal your laugh lines
while you are sleeping
and from them, build a vast map,
a history of joy
a panoptic cure-all for madness.
a path back to you.
here now, a circus!
a merry-go-round, an elephant, a bearded lady.
a penny show in the farthest tent,
eyes only and eyes empty.
while i am gone,
i consider my company.
they are ghostly children,
soaked in tantrums.
dark-socketed, toothless and easily impressed.
wide-lipped and gaping with indiscretions
drifting about, proclaiming:
mine! mine! mine!
their capacity for loyalty,
viciously claustrophobic.
choking bone,
stifling marrow.
a hardness that veils the many marks of their sadness
my fingers are a time bomb
ticking, tapping
a countdown of sympathies and impatience:
here, a lost moment.
here again another.
when i have had enough,
(and i have had enough)
i will look to my map.
there, i will unearth a roadway
in the hollow of a great forest,
jostled along by hope
as i forage for the way
back to you.
my ithaca.