Object Permanence

In the middle of the first
floor lobby at the mall, crowds
thinning out, near closing time—
a toddler in an oversized sweatshirt

and a pink tutu is twirling. She steps
toward the fountain arcing thin jets
of water into the air, waving her arms,
wanting to know the secret power

of what appears then disappears
only to reappear again. She trips
over her feet, windmills her arms
and lumbers around as if drunk: tiny

dervish whirling in a hidden
ecstasy. And I know: this is what I wish
for you, and you, and you, all my loves—
for the little bones of the ear

to never stop vibrating to waves
of light and pleasure that have always
been there, long before any sad
miasma came to roost in the rafters,

endlessly picking at the dark
plums of fear and unhappiness
as if this was the only food
left in the world.

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