Show and Tell
You have to show up every day;
Show your face,
Show your work.
Show you mean what you say.
You have to tell your story,
To a girl you like
Or a man in a tie who shows up late
Because you think they control your fate.
So you sit up straight and your heart races.
You'll have to tell them all the reasons:
About the time when
About the why
About the real, the true
All of the many, less the few.
Pliant and wide eyed
Showing without telling that
I am good.
I am decent.
Hear me out.
Later on, someone will ask you to
Show exactly where you lost the will to speak.
When the words on the page
Were no longer enough.
When it stopped mattering
Whether spoken or thought
Whether you conceded or fought.
You say, I just ran out of time
Once when I was nine
I wore soccer gear to show and tell
And the kids all laughed;
Not at my clicking-on-linoleum cleats
Or the shin guards or the over-sized kit;
Just that I froze,
Had nothing at all to say,
Thinking then that showing was telling,
That the gaps between the seen and the story
Would always be filled in
By a sympathetic world of order;
Mothers arriving to soothe fresh wounds,
Lovers finishing each other's sentences.
There is a pain in the discovering
That no matter what you show,
No matter what you tell
You can never convey what's in here:
A kaleidoscope of colors, lovely,
Received by the world as black and white.
Your spectrum of light reversed through a prism.
The intolerable lonesomeness
Of the indescribable unseen.
Music without notes,
Feasts without recipes,
Love before kisses,
The connection prefacing touch.
But a lack of it
Is not always inadequate.
There are things you must do
And words you must say
That have nothing to do with it.
The best things cannot survive
When brought into the light.
And there are words that must never be said