Lisa Huffaker, STILL TRYING

In case you stumbled into a sort of sightless grace;

in case the crystalline arrow piercing your heel might be poisoned

with revelation, like a fiery daub of venom, clear and sure,

forking a final surge of lightning through your failing limbs, you ran.

In case the ancient hope could still prevail,

in case the thing you lived for could stand,

and because you would venture your life for it if it could;

because having scanned the world for what you loved, you found it

missing, because through the filter of black noise nothing had yet emerged

you could point to and say it was worth it – it was worth it for this;

in case destiny could still be governed, or the design shaped even a little,

or if by ordaining yourself a fool, by reducing yourself

to a flapping shred of meat the echoing maw 

could itself be fed, made at last to thrive, if hunger itself 

could be fulfilled – not hunger for – but hunger 

as being, as totem – hunger the seeing eye, hunger the dog

running beside you, always invisible and gigantic and loyal, always loyal,

timing your breath, clocking the cadence of your stride

as the music of its own want, want, want, you ran,

panting until you could hardly rasp its name: want,

and you threw it a bone, and a bone, another bone, all your bones,

for running, they say, is really a controlled fall. So bone on bone

on plundered bone, plummeting at the behest of want

you fell and you fell, in case through the skylight of exalted agony 

you might suddenly ascend, in case falling inverted suddenly 

into flight, in case by any chance at all

there was somewhere, anywhere 

left to go.

Lisa Huffaker writes poetry and essays, sings with the Dallas Opera, and makes art. Her poems appear in 32 Poems, Southwest Review, The Boiler, Able Muse, Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere. In her micropublishing project White Rock Zine Machine, she transforms vending machines into sculptures offering tiny books of art and writing. She offers workshops on writing and book arts at the Nasher Sculpture Center, and was recently C3 Visiting Artist at the Dallas Museum of Art. Her installation, “Code Room,” is currently on view at Ro2 Art.