Admit it. You return to the past because you have gained some kind of knowledge to interpret it: the titanium device with its four pins meticulously buried in your skull, the sunlight from the window reflecting off its edges to cast fractured lines of light
across your chest and across the hospital bed, the rays of light appearing to beam from this metal ring around your head (like a goddamned angel), or the way when your nurse flicks it with his plastic pen it vibrates in a key you cannot yet name. Call it
the key of metal, of titanium, of shiny misfortune. Admit it, the present is awfully dull and will remain so until many years later when it comes miraculously into focus, when you understand the meaning of the word regret. So it is you go back, armed now
with the word halo, the word rife with what you have learned about the depiction of angels in Renaissance painting, the ring or rings of light painted by the old masters so as to hover lightly around the head. And how can you not see with this knowledge, knowing
as you do now about the terrible wings you keep and continue to keep secret? Some would argue we keep secrets because we cannot help ourselves. But what if secrets are kept simply because we have yet to make sense of what really happened?
The moon in latest afternoon, just days ago, hid a segment of the setting sun, and there before us a mandorla without even the faintest sketch of a god or angel beneath it. Admit it, I am not alone: things beg for significance. Would that we always had the time to come back to them later…
20 The Paris-American
C. Dale Young is the author of three collections of poetry. His most recent is Torn (Four Way Books 2011). He practices medicine full-time and teaches in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. He is one of the 2012 Poetry Fellows of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He lives in San Francisco.