My philosopher friend is explaining again
that the bottle of well-chilled Coke in my hand
might not be a bottle of Coke,
that the trickle of bottle-sweat cooling in my palm
might not be wet, might not be cool,
that in fact it’s impossible ever to know
if I’m holding a bottle at all.
I try to follow his logic, flipping the steaks
that are almost certainly hissing
over the bed of coals – coals I’d swear
were black at first, then gray, then red –
coals we could spread out and walk on
and why not, I ask, since we’ll never be sure
if our feet burn, if our soles
blister and peel, if our faithlessness
is any better or worse a tool
than the firewalker’s can-do extreme.
Exactly, he smiles. Behind the fence
the moon rises, or seems to.
Have another. Whatever else is true,
the coals feel hotter than ever
as the darkness begins to do
what darkness does. Another what? I ask.
From Poems and Plays #11, spring/summer 2004