|Where does a poem live? On the page
captured in ink or paint or blood?
Does it exist merely between the lines
or is it flattened between ancient sheaves?
Perhaps scribbled on a tenement wall?
Tattoed skin deep?
Does it live in a moment or an eternity?
Does it draw its first beath upon the thinking
or the writing? Or is it in the telling,
the reading, the repeating?
Does it live just in the poet?
Or is the poem transferred, by transfusion,
into a reader? Is it that thought--
that mental string of letters modified,
torn to shreds, swallowed whole,
and then spit into the wind--
that just is the poem?
Does it gain substance
for indeed words have weight?
Does it float like dandelion-fluff
waltzing off to distant minds: where
it might root in fallow ground
or be trampled by the stampede into the mud--
where it still might flourish?
Upon the hearing or reading
does it earworm
into brain cells to fester and yet, bear fruit?
Do the roots entangle with the 'what was'
to become a 'what might be?'
Does it evolve, transform when
whisked with a differing perspective?
Or does it simply fade into the gray
between thought and memory?
Does a poem live and thrive in the brain,
Does it gouge its point;
a finely honed dagger to dig in
or cut out?
Does it slide softly
like a cool breeze
across the face of reality?
Does it affect neurons
and become a part of the wholeness?
Where does a poem live?
Is it instilled into the heart,
that is more than mere muscle to pump life?
Does it then touch every facet
of the living
diamond in the rough?
Does it gain the power to metamorphosize
mere carbon into something more?
Is it then and there it belies reason and simply is? Or ...
Does the poem live in the soul?
In that existential space
unique to each being
can the poem change
every soul it enhances?
Does it shift beyond language
into canon, become a prism
refracting color brightly enough
for even the blind to see?
Does it cause the soul to pause,
to draw a breath and sigh?
Just don't tell me
the poem doesn't live, that it is, indeed,
mere ink upon a page,
mere words uttered into the void -
for that would shatter me.
The pieces of who this poet is
would then be encased to the cellular level
to sink to the depths beyond the deep.
Or perhaps, not.
For I shouldn't believe you.