Face Down

Face Down

by Mary Karr


What are you doing on this side of the dark?

You chose that side, and those you left

feel your image across their sleeping lids

as a blinding atomic blast.

Last we knew,

you were suspended midair

like an angel for a pageant off the room

where your wife slept. She had

to cut you down who’d been (I heard)

so long holding you up. We all tried to,

faced with your need, which we somehow

understood and felt for and took

into our veins like smack. And you

must be lured by that old pain smoldering

like woodsmoke across the death boundary.

Prowl here, I guess, if you have to bother somebody.

Or, better yet, go bother God, who shaped

that form you despised from common clay.

That light you swam so hard away from

still burns, like a star over a desert or atop

a tree in a living room where a son’s photos

have been laid face down for the holiday.


*published in The New Yorker, September 22, 2014 issue.