This Is How It Is

This is how it is, he said,
with a smile that held no joy,
and only the conviction
of one sentenced to life.

I was certain once, too,
said the woman with the hundred-year-old eyes
Certainty the folly
the fallacy
of those who don’t know
that they don’t know.
I was one such.

Is there no room for uncertainty in this world?
No place for wonder?
No patience for mystery?
No home for possibility?
Isn’t it possible that
for just a moment,
you could see the stars between the star
where there was only darkness before,
and be heartened in the night?

Is a life lived with no margin for error
a death lived
in a room where sunshine and fresh air
are the least of what is not admitted?
It is dust we speak of most often as settled.

And if you can open to the chaos
the same way you thrill to the summer storm
that violently shakes you awake in your sleepy warm
middle-of-the-night bed,
what then?
How vast, then, is the universe existing
in the space between your hand and mine
as we walk down this road?
And how pitiable the one
who has never felt the hair on the back of his neck
stand up?