The mesmerizing reversal of icy lunacy
from sitting in the long-absent sunshine
is exactly what his fetus signed up for
and intuited long ago in the bog
of his mother’s biospheric love.
The scent of soil; the touch of heat;
the spectacle of black birds mirrored
in the glinting pond are all great and gentle
comforts to a boy who has seen sorrow up close
and swallowed his share of shared pain.
Having fled the faded nest of domestic bliss,
so to speak, he compares one loneliness
to another and studies his lifelong
accumulation of ironies and regrets
like a vulture circling a fool.
There is no one around
but elements and animals
to witness just how intricately sunken,
how inured to self-injury he’s become,
and this too comforts him somehow.
Musing over the celebratory yet sobering
focus of a single merganser drake busily
bobbing for eels below the ripples, he inquires:
what is bravery, if not the assassin of fear?
And what is self-pity, but the absence of astonishment?
And what is he, he concludes, but a fetus
turned boy turned man turned fetus again,
floating in an emptiness he no longer notices,
marveling at the silver minnows flashing in the shallows,
as sunlight presses through him like tigers through a glade.
Connolly Ryan is a poet and senior lecturer at UMass Amherst Honors College. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.