As we walk beside a granite wall
discussing friends whose cancers
have recurred, enemies whose wealth
has mounted, and the tsunami
that has disabled half of Japan,
something gray happens: a misstep
takes me inside the wall. I panic,
but you see nothing wrong. The day,
filtered through stone, looks final.
The density stifles my breathing
and igneous pressure retards
my already compromised heart.
You believe I still walk beside you
with rapt and human expression.
Yet I’m inside the wall, not quite
fossilized but trapped like a fly
in amber. Only my shadow
walks beside you, a muddle
of shame. Don’t touch or confide
in it. Please call a mason
to demolish the wall and free me.
Too late. Your footsteps recede,
and the tall voice of my shadow
drifts on the brittle March wind.
I try to back out of this trap,
but whatever opening occurred
to admit me now has closed,
leaving no trace of a seam.
Your fading laughter frightens me.
I fear if you accustom yourself
to only the shadow part of me
you’ll forget I used to occupy
three dimensions, and won’t recall
how much of me the stone absorbed,
how much or how little you cared.