Set free, I don’t gush like water from a dam.
I don’t writhe like a mouse that escapes a sticky trap.
I don’t look back like a letter that flees the mother
Alphabet, knowing full well the cost of its decamping.
I collect shells, which I haven’t done since

I was a boy and blind to suffering of this type.
I trace tender ovals on the shiny glaze of this empty
Mussel like I’m stirring time. It’s the peaceable
Suspense I feel when I’m in a kitchen alone,
Considering the provenance of an ingredient.

I never know whether I’m older or younger
Than I want to be. Is milk my touchstone, or wine?
I wonder whether my life will rise, a soul-soufflé,
Before I am a shell, too. My knees hurt
Like they know where I’m going, set free.

A Message from the Editors

As a reader of our efforts, you have stood with us on the front lines in the battle for culture. Learn how your support contributes to our continued defense of truth.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 39 Number 4, on page 48
Copyright © 2021 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com
https://newcriterion.com/issues/2020/12/set-free