~This poem previously appeared in Poet Lore (2004).
In Glue We Trust
I believe love is the glue that holds the world intact.
I believe in the temporary bond of Post-it notes,
the L-5 bus driver who took me out of the cold,
the wet, whose hands were God’s, delivering me
to the promised land, though I believe promises,
like lives, are bound to come undone.
I believe in Duco Cement. It smells blade sharp,
dries on your skin like it’s peeling down to
raw bone. I believe in the glue of your bones
against my own. I believe in the glue librarians use
to bind books, I believe in the invisible glue
that binds them to their work.
I believe in hot wax on hard copy, putting
the newspaper to bed, in a union shop, many hands
hauling to a common song. I believe in going home,
and coming back to work. I believe in the solder
and acetylene torch. I believe in the jazz of steel on brass,
in Ella and Louie delighting in a B-flat, be-bop scat.
I believe in the law of magnets: that opposites attract,
the alchemy of Muslim and Jew, thin and thick, of white
and black. I believe in clay slip used to cover cracks,
the broken leg that’s wrapped in a cast, the aloe vera balm
on burns, the salve of words, I believe my salvation
is buried in the cell tissue of my scars.
I believe that gentle hands can know the knife, the cut,
the sword. I believe in Kali and her necklace of skulls.
I believe there will always be wars. I believe we are born
with the knowledge of our death, that we make it up as we go,
flying on a dream and a curse, hanging by the blues,
swinging from a high note of grace.
I believe when my daughter was Rumplestiltzkening
inside me, we spun the finest gold on earth.
I believe I bring my spider’s silk with me
to bind me fast to this oh-oh, this no-you-don’t,
this Devil-May-Care-, this roll-of-the-dice,
this doo-wah, doo-wah, wind-blown world.