There is a center around which
(these kinds of)
Caught in the gravity whirl--
water tracing the edges of a porcelain bowl--
stuff that is not yet pearls slips
into the mouth of the oyster, where their connecting chain is wrought.
Let's count them.
Dissect and categorize.
Lay them down on strips of museum velvet.
What makes a masked man?
1. Snow and silence and the pull of thin fingers.
That's how it starts.
They've gone all cold-pale as they cling
to the fringe of a shawl. To the kiss of a trigger.
2. Fire-flick lights, they dance in circles.
Caged neon goldfish twirl their glory atop every parked car.
Remorseless, insensate they spin.
Dizzy and eternal.
3. There are accidental angels made, where their bodies slipped into the powder.
Halos of caution tape wreathe them.
Sirens sing their lullabies.
4. Tears and coco, burning both, ply a child
while a man in cheap aftershave is asking questions,
picking away in sympathy
to hide his sandpaper professionalism.
5. Afterward brings a cold tomorrow. It brings beds without end
and a wordless space, where names once were.
Compassion is an icicle stretching, reaching for the earth.
Bitter and brittle, it dies in music.
0. The baby that wailed, throat rich with that first loss--
(what we should call original sin)
the parting between skin and souls--
now his is a terrified monster, wrapped deep and fast in his trappings. Stitched to his cause.
His cloak is the fleece blanket that mother always said would keep off the nightmares.
His mask is a winter hood; armor for snowball fights and trips back from school.
He even wears earmuffs
(what kind of vigilante wears earmuffs?)
as he traipses off into the night.
He is found again, in the quiet hollow of the morning, mantled over in powder.
His body is stretched out in peaceful repose, exchanging heat with the sidewalk.
The doctor who brings him 'round is unclear what he hoped to achieve
lurking out on street corners
waiting by defunct theaters
in the middle of the night.
The man in the blanket (a talisman true, ) sits solemn in his bed..
He thinks for a while on loss and redemption,
and the histories that propel us.
He doesn't tell the doctor about the vigil he kept, guarding the city against his ghosts.
Maybe this is for the best.