Whole by Audra Cooper

Before this otherness in him blooms,

he had hardly known it was there

or perhaps he had not wanted to look.

Now, though, he could admit,

that in moments, small, and unguarded,

he had felt it lapping,

-quiet, but insistent,

against his shore

Some instinct had always made him turn away,

had made him lean into the labor of his life,

watching the slim green shoots breaking ground,

breathing in the cool perfect smell of turned earth.


His dark eyed children regarded him without alarm or caution,

while inside him,

a cavernous, resonant space opened.

A vine of desire slowly creeping.

When it happens,

when his calloused hands find purchase in the darkness,

it is a gift so unexpected he wants to laugh in delight.

Which surprises him.

He has never laughed in delight.


He can see it now, a still pool,

thrilling and dangerous,

Far below, and so clear, he can see the rocks at the bottom.


He presses his smooth forehead to the door

beyond which is everything,

his fingers curled around its wide edges.


When it happens,

when he opens his eyes to himself,

when he leaps from the rock ledge,

it feels like coming home.


He can see it everywhere now,

in himself, in everyone.


He can hear it too, a drumbeat, a siren’s call.

It makes him feel euphorically sad,

alive, afraid.


In the deep inner place, he runs his hands

over the solid earthen walls.

He cannot go back.

he cannot unknow this.