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  • And It Begins, and: Atlas
  • Gabriel Spera (bio)

And It Begins

The inconceivable finds its vehicleinto being, into fact: Fiat Punto—Let there be an end. And it begins, a flash,an airquake, a self-devouring chaos ofblack plumes gloried with the halo of fireshineand buckshot of cloudlight, thick chiaroscurothinning scrimlike as it spreads to let base shapesat last condense, confused, from the debris sleetand sand fall—the warped ellipse of steering wheeland wheel drum, skewed rhombus of hatchback, diamondshims of tempered glass, the skitting helix ofstrut coil, flung rods and cylinders, bent, dented,of drive shaft and shock, the colors dust-paled butstrengthening, spectral, spanning red to black asmoment starts to follow moment, the marginsstirring with the first coughs of lung rust, raw formswith hands and feet bellying from the blood muckand clay of those without, toward nothing certain,leaking low sounds and bleats answered by others,upright, eyestung, earclapped, edging toward oil sootand crater, car, carcass, stunned by their newfoundnakedness in the face of all they've made, allthey cared for, having no word in the languagethey woke up with for this new beast, this blind drivetoward ending that would devour them inside out. [End Page 154]


My world has grown so small I can hardly bear it.Tragic, to think what once these hands achieved,the oceans overthrown, the mountains heaved,the monster pinned and weeping that I might spare it.

These days, these hands know nothing but the numbingsameness of work, the petty tasks that consume me.Rigid, heavy, cold—would any who once knew merecognize this stone that I'm becoming?

The day breaks and ends on the unremittingwailing of the innocent. I'm powerless to end itand helpless to endure. My heart, its dreams suspended,has become a moon—dark-sided, scarred, forbidding.

Shoulder it long enough, and any weightbecomes the whole and name of who you are.And if we falter before we get too far,it's not that the burden we choose to bear is great,

it's that we grow so puny underneath.It starts out simple enough—a shell, a stone,small things you come to need, small lives you've grownattached to. Then one day it's the length and breadth

of the sky itself you're trembling to support,and not one star among the dazzle can you set downwithout all the firmament crashing to the ground,a galaxy of tears to fill your hands. What starts

in levity ends in gravity—any child couldteach us that. Take this. Hold it. Don't let it fall.When did the simplest things become so impossible,so pointless to even try? I thought I understood, [End Page 155]

thought myself above it all, too strongto falter, to fail. I got that backward, too.I thought I could watch the measured days slip throughmy hands and not feel bitter. I was wrong.

I thought I understood, but what's to know?I tried to embrace the world. I really tried.Some days, I weep to feel it all backslidetoward chaos. Because I can't hold on. And I can't let go.

Gabriel Spera

Gabriel Spera's first collection of poems, The Standing Wave, was a National Poetry Series selection and received the Literary Book Award for Poetry from PEN-USA West. He received a 2009 Literature Fellowship in poetry from the nea.



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