They Will Sew the Blue Sail

Commas in Dante | Jessica Laser

Loosed from the rain, suspended

like a bough that broke and didn’t fall,

Sergei returned to fix the fake fire.

I’d worried the pilot was on too strong.

Though he fixed it for free, fire

always means profit and free

in this case means already paid.

“Finally,” I calculated,

“I found out I love you.

We achieved the physical

life of difference

we’d always held from each other inside.

I saw your life as if across a stage

I had tossed you a looking glass.

There are so many ways to think of us

that I have thought them all.

In one, we’ve been a painting

to which we were in a museum drawn,

stood peering at it for days

imagining the essays

and then we walked away.

In another, we preferred to dine

with literary people of unliterary sympathies,

who said at the restaurant, humiliating the effort,

Get your head out of books. Write for the waitress.

I close down around me like a thousand-petaled lotus

when I privilege my sympathy with others

over my system of belief, my thought

that at times I have no sympathy

at all, none except my own belief

that I have no belief

that is not a sympathy.

Freeing myself from what ailed me in others

gave me room to encounter someone new.

That’s how I took you, as someone

working for but excluded by virtue.”

“Makes me feel dumb,”

he said of my poem.