The Thief

Alex Bernstein

Are you the teabag in my mug,
dear spirit? Sometimes
you wake me in the night,
wheezing a lullaby.
Sometimes you return
in the singular, on the whole
as an imprecision,
like someone setting off
the fire alarm, then escaping
down the back alley, incredibly
nervous and pathetic.
Sometimes you feed me
nonsense at random
about who stole the cat.
We don’t even have a cat.
Then, I remember
how pleasant you can be,
how you wear my body
like a whooshing machine.
I try to remain very small
where this happens.
Everywhere you are
at the edge. I send you
through the invisible
like a letter containing
incense and notes of pine
to the afterlife, a spell,
and before long you
return to me and say,
“I myself am the thief.”
No doubt you burned
the meadow and the cows.
A whoosh of sun, a whoosh
a whoosh, a monster,
regardless of the outcome.
You, like beauty
and technology, are a field
of perfect expression
of forces in a vacuum.