Richard Lyons


The subject doesn’t even have to raise its head.
It can barely lift a hand to ward off wind.
Even the child hears his ligaments and bones
rehearse how to arrive at the mark
they’ve approached so many times pleasure and pain
have the rituals down pat, light a candle, snuff one out.
Change bends us to it. The heart beats a little faster,
like the sound of feet fleeing down an alley.
Does it matter who’s the victim or who’s the thief?
Eventually the heart grows quiet.
And the body closes in on a sense of itself
as a separate thing like a table or a desk.
If you’re brave, you can insinuate yourself
before a mirror. From one moment to the next
there is little to see, looking eye to eye.
This is you, the one on record, the face yesterday greeted.
This is a person you don’t recognize.

Richard Lyons teaches at Mississippi State University. His most recent collection of poems won the 2005 Washington Prize from The Word Works in Washington, D.C. Recent work has appeared or will appear in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Cincinnati Review, diode, and The Gettysburg Review.