It was like stepping backward from the deck
and then haplessly falling off a ship at sea.
How often has that happened before,
and where do all those corpses go?
Perhaps like mine the bodies slowly drifted
through layers of liquid time, inexorably
returning to the moment right before
they were born into their movie.
It was 1948, and just prior to a dance named Conception,
beneath a moon made for mating, young mom and dad
had no idea that I was hovering right over them
at the evening matinee, reading their intent.
They were virgin lovers with fresh hot popcorn
and icy cokes, staring fixedly straight ahead,
wondering if Rhett and Scarlet would finally just . . .
in a time and place that has little visceral meaning
to the children of now, except of course it is now,
just as it was then, and maybe it was a warm,
kind-hearted night, and later, after the show
(perhaps as a Cormorant dived through the air somewhere,
and not by accident, but with the determined precision
of any chasing thing pursuing any fleeing thing)
they drove through the night in a Buick with the windows
all rolled down, because the breeze felt so invigorating,
and they both had the very same thing in mind
that would result soon enough in yours truly.
Some little drop of stuff filled up a certain space,
an insistent desire was quenched amidst love’s pleasure,
though nothing really happened, just as it does now —
just a slight step backward and I’m falling through
the layers, past the H-bomb and Ed Sullivan,
past Viet Nam and Kennedy, past Haight Ashbury
and Woodstock, past all the people and events
I can hardly remember, though all along,
regardless of the passing scenes,
I know one thing: I am.
There is a way I know this, but it is the same way
my parents knew me before they had even kissed,
and so before I ever came to be, here I always am.