conversation, evening

have you ever seen the sky
just after it rains
? he asks
me. we are stretched out under a perfect
half-sphere of a sky, the universe
laid bare above us. i wonder why
he still bothers to ask such
silly questions. we are not
twelve years old anymore.

not only after it rains, he insists, but
on a clear, cold night. just precisely
between dusk and twilight. about one
or two in the morning, but that
sounds later than i mean.
you know
what i mean.

i never know what you mean, i say. you wander on
about clouds and compasses
and sand and fog until i'm dizzy
with your nonsense. talk sense.
say what you mean.

what i mean is
he whispers, like
tonight, it's so clear that you
can see straight through
to heaven.

i thought
heaven wasn't a place,
i say.
how can you see something that doesn't exist?

heaven. heaven. it's just
beyond the moon,
he chants softly
into my ear, and with every word
i almost believe it's true. paradise. paradise,
he murmurs like a mantra, like
a charm to keep him warm, it's
right behind the sun.

never-never land, i counter, because
it is expected of me. second star
to the right, and straight on
'til morning.
he turns his silver eyes
in my direction, and a small
part of me feels the slightest
bit mean for that.

it's there, he says, it's right

do you really
believe that?
i ask him.

in answer:
up, right now. tell me
what you see.

i see a silver dragon whose scales scattered
and flew up to the sky as stars
i invent. the sun sprang
from his right eye. the moon
from his left. his breath
filled the earth and created
us all. a fairytale. a myth. is that
what you want me to say?

i want you to say
what you mean
he says back
to the unbeliever in me.
i'll listen.

i don't think you want
to hear what i have
to say
i say. you might
want to think about that.

all i want
is for you to hear
what i do
he says.

and what
is that
i say.

the melody in the stars. the song
in the sea. the voices in the wind. there
is something
there, he says. and if i could just
see what it is, through that frayed edge
of night, i could get there.
i could get there.

his silver eyes glow; i take
his hand.

sing to me, i say, wanting, as
always, to fracture time into this one
moment when i
can be enough.
i will listen.

and when he does, i
close my eyes and let
the night fall away until there is nothing left
but the feel of his hand
in mine. there is this;
nothing more

than what i can see
and hear and touch. and there is no one
in the world who wishes more
than i that this
could change.

hear me—now.
love me—now.
were there but world enough and time—

well? he asks, with such perfect
vulnerability—waiting and wanting
and wishing and watching—that it breaks
my heart, can you hear them?

in answer:
i smile, tracing letters
on his palm.

i still don't think
he's convinced me. but if we
can have our paradise now,
then this boy
with stars in his eyes
will take me there.



i'm not sure which is the better title: conversation, evening, or paradise now. thoughts?