Porkpie Hat – Surface of Things

?When it comes to the possible / I’m a passable machine.?

But just barely. Many days, I move around so awkwardly, bumping into tables and chairs. I lurch from mistake to mistake.

And my voice. My voice is scratchy, out of tune, a punctured accordion hidden in the middle of an orchestra, mostly just suitable for singing dirty shanties and reciting limericks.

When I was young, I had imagined a much different voice. I had imagined singing madrigals that would coax the moon out from behind the clouds, bring mermaids to the shore.

When I was young, I imagined I would have hands so steady and strong, able to pluck the strings of a harp, bend a bar of steel, and perform surgery on a hummingbird’s brain.

Sometimes when I look at them now, they are shaking, those hands; the trembling hands of a child in the attic of a haunted house. I’m spilling black coffee on wall-to-wall carpets. I’m fumbling for my car keys, dropping money in the snow.

When I was young, I hoped that my vision would clear a bit more with each passing year. I imagined crystal eyes, able to see through shadows, through walls. As I look out through them now, on a bad day, my eyes are tired and blurred. All shapes are indistinct, barely defined. I don’t know where one thing ends, and another begins.

But there are days, when I am around you, you teach me to move a bit more easily. Inspired by your grace, I can sometimes find the rhythm in the song, spin you around and around in my arms.

When I match my voice to yours, I can sometimes find the right notes. We can stand together outside a strange house on a December night, and bring smiling faces to the empty windows. We can read poetry together after midnight, letting the mermaids sing between the lines, the moon pass across the sky, the candles burn down to stubs.

When I am near you, there are moments when my hands grow still. When you sit at the kitchen table and tell me about your day, they chop onions paper thin, turn flour into bread. They trace the curve of your back, and catch you when you fall.

When I am with you, we look up at the sky, our eyes following the path of satellites. Keeping watch together, we avoid dangers on the highway. Sometimes I think we have a special kind of vision, every now and then, that sees just a bit beyond the surface of things.

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