The Irritant
By Jocko Benoit

There is something under your tongue

Your entire life.  You have an answer

Of too many letters to finish the crossword,

And what you’ve done in ink can’t be erased.

You are crouched in front of a fridge

Unable to identify the size or location

Of the hunger you are trying to fill.

You look at the moon drenching a field

Silver and a sun gilding a lake and it is

The most beautiful ad you’ve seen

For a product you’ve forgotten.

You sit close-mouthed, the irritant

Under your tongue a shell fragment

Of your innocence, or maybe a memory

Of something you could never swallow.

But now the pearl you’ve become

Around it is so full you can’t speak

And your head is in a sea through which

Shafts of light support the slanting sun.

And through a ring of splash

Descends the diver come

To collect the opaque beauty

Of your burden, and you wonder

How long angels can hold their breath

Because you are much deeper

Than you remember being.