The Unfastening

As the father turns away from the thought
of his failure, the hands remove
his glasses and rub his eyes over

and over, drying the nonexistent tears.
Unknown to the one who is troubled
about losing his hair, his fingers stroke

his baldness as he speaks. the body,
our constant companion, understands
the loneliness of the hostess in her dark

driveway, embracing herself after the guests
who promised more and soon have gone,
and even visits the old schoolteacher

who reads the same happy ending to each
new class, working her toes in her shoes.
How could the people of the kingdom

not have known the curse of sorrow
was nothing more than a long sleep
they had only to wake from? In dreams

the body, which longs for transformation
too, suddenly lifts us above the dark
roofs of our houses, and far above

the streets of the town, until they seem
like any other small things fastened to earth.

Explore an earlier version of this poem through a question about craft.

Hear Wes McNair read this poem.