Spring 2016 / Issue 99

Matthew Olzmann

Listen son, when we shine this tractor beam on you,

you need to hold still. Not that stillness, son,

is something that can be “held,” but that’s your language,

not ours. What we’re saying, son,

is you keep skipping like a stone across a pond and we need

that to stop. What we’re saying, son, is let the light

bring you home. Never mind the way

the tractor beam incinerates all it touches.

We’re pretty certain this is safe. It’s gonna work. Trust us.

There are things in your skull, son,

that do not belong to you, thoughts you can’t explain,

songs you’ve never heard, colors you have no name for.

We’re not saying you’re special, son. We just needed a place

to store our luggage and now we’ve got to extricate

that luggage and we need to extricate it all intact.

Think of the light as all the problems you need to face.

You’re afraid of being alone in the world? You’re afraid

that when the light shines on you, you’re going

to be exposed and everyone will laugh? You’re afraid

that you’ll never be moderately competent? You need

to deal with that, son, and now is your big chance.

We’re saying step into the light, son.

Never mind that you’ve doubted

whether or not the light is real. What is doubt, son,

when you have a chance to be hauled into the sky?