Wednesday, December 09, 2009

To Vanish:

On the day that Craig Arnold disappeared
rain was falling in Portland, and the radio
informed us that he had not returned
to the remote japanese village from which
he had departed to hike around a volcano.
The spot was 30 seconds long. The search
continued for three days, then was given up.
A scrap of clothing was found by a tourist
three weeks later, on the lip of the caldera.

In all likelihood Mr. Arnold's bones
were swallowed by the underbrush
but there is a chance that he has joined
the ranks of vanished souls whose
disappearances raise little suspicion,
whose post-mortem sightings will not
be claimed. No tabloids will list "the top five
most likely places to spot Craig Arnold."

(1. The volcano of Kuchinoerabujima, walking
the rim, looking for the scrap of shirt
left as a guide to find home.)

At most, the radio might run another 30 seconds
of commemoration after a frantic call
is forwarded to the local news.

(2. A sculpture museum, hiding among
the statues of Persephone, eyeing
the marble pomegranate hungrily.)

The family will be called,
relatives nearby contacted,
his name will be spoken again.

(3. Vegas)

The sightings are never the same,
always from afar, and usually
far-fetched enough to be true.

(4. Hitchhiking down the autobahn with a sign
that says "poetry or bust!" Everyone swears
they saw someone else pick him up.)

And so we wait to hear where
he will resurface. And slowly
his bones disappear.

(5. A small used bookstore in some big city
where everyone knows the meaning of "ekphrasis"
and tells you that every poet eventually vanishes.)

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