When you feel narrowed to a key to a whole damn forest
Because this is why you do what you do. You woke up. For a long time, the shadows leaned into their own trees, but you can’t afford to watch them do that anymore. You can’t afford to simply drag your hand over the loose threads of your life and pull on them to make a worry. You’re sitting on a bus. Rail lines divide and silver and serrate fields to streets north across the pink horizon of mountain and blue ridge, and you’ve got to know. You’ve got to understand. Tucked inside the maw of a horse. Set against the toothy tongue. The long low room of an evening has opened you like a knife. Count your breaths—count ’em, count to ten, one, two, four geese, six—and let out your ribs to run wild, because no one else will. Not to bury your fist in barbed wire, but to release your wild lungs and all their breaths to join the other air in a thin-height city. Not to rage at the faces teething the lights on news, but to say you will soften the color in your brain until the pale animals melt. Hold your hands open in your lap. Lurch north on the bus. The dark trains that line your pockets have to be set free. Because you woke up free one day. Even if all the things are not behind you yet. Because they aren’t. They live under the blue bellies of the two white mares that walk shoulder to shoulder, close-mouthed, away from you across the tracks. You got a heart? You got marrow? Then you got a responsibility to be strange and open the doors in your spine. To be kind. You owe a duty to walk out of yourself and back in like barn swallows in an altimeter. The steady trail aligns the paw prints to your skeleton. Say yes. Say keys. Make yourself vertebrae blue guitars. Contrails back-boning the sky.