Doubts and Vapor Trails


“Doubts and Vapor Trails” by Sharon Rauenzahn

It is the eschatological doubt that cripples.
Not merely “Am I here?” or “Can I act?”
Those fears are answered by the everyday:
the sidewalk, and the children, never lie.
Instead, the nagging question that remains
is like an airplane overhead, unheard
until the engine stutters, stopping heart
and breath a moment. Will it fall this time,
a shining silver angel from the sky?
One silent prayer escapes unnoticed, aimed
at unheard God, as paralyzed with time
and weight of unasked questions, frozen mind
attempts to ponder what cannot be thought.

You know the shape: thoughts heavy with the end
and start of things, that hearken back to days
of Sunday School, of wisdom learned by rote.

At last, the motor catches, coughs, explodes
to life and fury, till with steady roar
(what’s always heard is what one never hears)
it fades to silence. Paralyzed no more,
the mind resets. The memory of fear
undoes itself, a fading vapor-trail
in unfelt, unseen wind. Its source forgotten,
pain diminishes, but still reminds,
like wounds long-healed in limbs long since removed,
of eyes that might have seen, but now are blind,
of ears now deaf, that might, just once, have heard.

August 24, 2016
(orig 5/3/1996)


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