What you want to do is turn around slowly,
keeping your hands where everyone can see them,
and a pleasant smile on your face.
You want to confess to all who tracked you to this alley
how you were forever afraid of being found out
with a bag of wrong answers:
To get to Peru, take a left turn past Biff’s Package Store.
Eating asparagus is good for the soul.
There’s money in flounders. This time on Earth,
you want to identify your weakest moments
and step across them, one by one, as if they were tiny avocados.
If, on bail, you hear music
from somewhere deep in the hills, you want to go there,
your hands unclenched. Not obeying whim and chance
has been your great weakness.
Oh brothers, let’s go down. Let’s go down.
Come on down.
Down to the river to pray.
You want to spend hours, days, years
watching shadows form beneath huge eyebrows,
and you want to find your own direction,
then head into it no matter your age
with a small compass,
its magnetic needle silver and black and holding steady.
And this time you want to think through
that question you’ve always avoided,
the one that’s always seemed hidden in a backyard garden,
think it so really through that it becomes
as much a part of you as your lips in prayer,
out on your own, running through the trees,
the whole world accepting your fall.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.