You will suspect its presence
long before you first see it
drunk under your holiday table,
at first cute and then
It reminds you at once
of an ancient, shrunken,
discovered snoring harmlessly
in a worn armchair.
Another day you will hear it whispering,
answering your questions indistinctly
in a tongue once used exclusively for
fragile treaties, falsely joyful
greeting cards, and scriptures.
You will glimpse it again
hiding behind sun-faded
plastic flowers left behind
in the dirt-speckled front window
of a defunct store.
You’re so surprised that it has not come
wrapped in a torn flag, raging flames,
blood-tossed and bellicose.
Is it what it appears to be?
It takes a while for you to name it.
You are curious about
what it may want, why
it’s staying so close, why it won’t
come out brazenly and
stop you with a word or blow,
not understanding that for you,
it is not going to be
as blunt and heroic
as you’d prefer; instead
it will simply lurk until it is time
then tap you
with a single finger,
say softly, “Now,”
and lead you from here
On the way it will say
one more thing:
“Sorry, kid.” You will
that this is better,
but it will take a while to get there.