For Stuart Porter, Who Asked for a Poem That Would Not Depress Him Further

A joke the size of a small moon headed
for earth: it will decimate all talk of aging
schedules and quarterly projections. The dictators
will laugh themselves to death,
the crippled shall walk and the blind see.
Every heart shall open like rain
and the rivers flow
with gladness, oh my brother. . . I’m making
this up, of course, but you get the point—
imagination is a means of transport,
sometimes more real than any other, and I can see
you reading now, the smile beginning,
the corners of your lips raised,
slightly. And sometimes it’s enough, a belly laugh’s
redundant, the small
pleasure we can hold expands, takes up whole
moments of our lives. I think of your daughter
lying peaceful on the couch
in your lonely condo, her face like a perfected dream
of your own, translated into the feminine,
how your hands took on
a sudden grace I’d never seen
when you lifted her, turned her away
from the harsh light . . . It’s coming! The astronomers
are already beginning to snicker! Close all doors
and windows, hustle to the cellar!
—How could we bear total joy when one small
speechless face transforms
our hearts, all our wounds forever after bathed
in the light of that gaze so fresh from the other world. . . .
—Jeffrey Skinner