Issue 93 - Charles Harper Webb

by Charles Harper Webb

 The soul, as we know, is a gray moth
at the center of the brain. When we're awake

                  it sleeps, which makes some people think
                  it isn't there. When we  sleep, though, it wakes,

and leaves us through an ear. The things it sees,
the thoughts it has outside, are dreams. 

                 Once, during a World Series game,
                 a lost soul slipped into the pitcher's ear.

Unable to choose what pitch to throw,
he dropped onto the mound, clawing at his head, 

                 and had to be sedated until--as doctors tried
                 to bat it down--the soul fluttered away. 

Sometimes two souls fly together for a while.
The owners say they in love, and speak

                 of their soul mate. Sometimes these souls
                 lose each other in the dark, or for some reason,

fly together no more. Then the two people
feel sad, though one always feels sadder. 

                 When we die, the soul waits until no one's
                 looking, then flies out the least obvious ear: 

not straight to heaven, only to the nearest
tree, where it settles on a leaf--if there aren't

                 leaves, a twig will do--and seeps inside.
                 This is why children rake leaves into mountains

to slide down, and why men fire up a pile
of leaves and stare into the blaze on a cold day, 

                 and will say only: "I like the smell.", "I like
                 the heat.", "I like the light."