The Empire Of Light

By Michael Dumanis

The baby pulls my wrist into his mouth.
The baby wants to eat my face.
So does the dog, the one that I don’t have,
who lazes at the razor-edge
of vision, whose curved shadow, when I’m still
flat on my back, opening up
like a gift the new morning, clouds over me.
The sister asks me to apologize for 1985
to ’93. I screen all calls
from the persistent bank. The baker calls.
The baker wants her pie back.
Even the fan, worrying
the air from its perch on the ceiling,
sucks breath from my lung.
The future wants its diaper changed. I stroll it
past the drooping wisteria to the Family Dollar,
where I contemplate our next move.
In the suburban zoo, we gawk at cages.
We are surrounded
by musical notes of bright weather.
The panda turns its back on us
like an unhappy god.
I take the baby home. He’ll live forever,
I’m almost sure. He laughs like fire laughs,
inexorable heat, blue flame unraveling.
I have barely begun the day,
I think towards evening.
The baby presses at my collarbone.
You know what makes us happy?
The whole world.
We’re swaying to a prelude by Ravel.
We’re waving good-bye
to the empire of light. Our destiny
is red, purple, and black.

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