Daniel Bailey

Suppose that I died
by crashing my car into a telephone pole
on my way into the City of Leaves
but upon my moment of death
my life simply continued
And now you sit here
with these words that do not exist
And yet all seasons simultaneously greet you
Leaves fall into your lap
while wild tulips emerge
from the soil of living
The visitors have arrived at your garden
They take pictures
I have felt this before
My body has produced waste
I have asked the river
where it is going
The visitors note that the river
does not photograph well
The atoms cease to move once captured
The park ranger winks at me
before describing “the light of my spirit”
They comment on the light
and its dutiful treatment of things
I owe a handstand to the weeds
and a somersault to the subtle valley
And if I’m dead then why am I
still paying for things
This is a public park
and my wallet is making it
hard to walk
I throw my wallet into the river and forget
And if I had not died
would we have met?
When I arrived in the City of Leaves
they were not surprised at my arrival
They pointed to the trail
and told me to enjoy the day
And I did enjoy the day
but enjoyment always rubs against
the worry that we’ve purchased from the living
The trail was wet from the morning’s rain
with puddles slowly evaporating
I laid down next to a puddle
and I challenged it to a race upward
Last to the sky is a rotten egg, I said
and we began
and every part of me is still lying there
in anticipation of ascension
BTW, the puddle always wins
always returns but never remembers
to call me a rotten egg
When the visitors ask what I’m doing
I remind them that this is public land
and I’m not breaking any laws
They take my photograph (sometimes with puddle
somethings without) and walk on
The daytime relaxes
I move a few decimals
I mouth voila to the sky
I relieve beauty’s burden
I should not have waited this long
to compose my will
There is nothing left of me
And the only specialist who accepts
my insurance is a lepidopterist
But what do I know?
I know that if you crawled inside of me
you would find a forest cleaved
by a slow river
I know that chrysalis is the most
stressful time of year
I know you will be here soon

Daniel Bailey is the author of several books of poetry. He lives and teaches in Athens, Georgia, where he continues to revise his bio.