What we inherited from the past
must not be permitted to shackle us
to the future. In his black top hat, Jimmy Carter sat
in a peanut, bursting out like a hatchling,
ready to sing to me, to relay the news.
The radio was a gift from my mother’s latest lover.
I saw him sometimes from the darkness of my room when
I should have been sleeping. It was companion, my arm
curled around it as I slept. It perched on the tub—I didn’t like
to be alone where I might drown. Our voices echoed
on the tile. I sang underwater, glugging my words:
Gobbledygook! I repeated after him. My mother’s voice
snaked under the door. I turned the radio loud to keep her
out. She rattled at the knob. The summer ran dry. A new
lover showed. Cicadas sang like engines in the trees.
We cast this message into the cosmos . . . I wondered where
my father was. Branches of pines needled my feet
as I ran to my fort in the woods. I climbed my tree.
Of the 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, some—
perhaps many—may have inhabited planets. I lay
watching the sky from the leaves. I called to my
father, come find me. I hugged the radio close. His voice
held fast in the darkness. I fell asleep, dreaming of all
the things he would someday say to me. When I woke, the sky
spun above me, the batteries were dead. Here is our message:
We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.