I flew out the window,
that's how Mr. Barry tells it,
heard my mother talking in her sleep
and followed those wonderful thoughts
straight toward the stars and on
till morning when I was discovered missing.
My mother will tell you
how they discovered that pixie-faced boy
sitting in a Pasadena barber's chair,
a lost angel waiting
for permission to wear his halo,
for someone to tell the little finch when
to leave the basement and sing his song.
Finches don't tell you about the fear,
discovering that zit-faced nobody playing
follow-the-leader with you in the mirror,
or the looming shades of stars and statues,
or finding easy veins for hard dreaming
when memories have lost their usefulness.
They don't tell you that being a tar baby
is Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah prison code
for which Brer—Tom, Dick or Peter—gets to give it
to you the night before your mother visits
with clean underwear, and how
you don't make a sound
because noise costs money.
In the end, this is a business of old hat tricks
and parlor transformations: no real magic.
Faith and trust land you in the dirt
with only your arms to catch you.
What I can tell you is silver platters make a clatter
louder than any applause, and somewhere
a fairy is dying. There are sunken treasures
on Hart Island, though no one cares to explore
the shipwrecks. No one dreams of pirating
the chests piled high with the dust of boys
who never discovered the secret of flight.
And though its memory still glitters
on cloudless nights, that second star on the right
burned out eons before my mother thought
to open the window.