When gospel was found
in glossy pages of magazines
I pored over, lemon juice soaking
my hair, I was first learning how
to be somebody I was not.

“Baby One More Time”
was the title of your song
where on screen I first saw you
not singing but syncing mouth and
body to music, asking to be hit, asking

for a sign.
I was too young to see
you, too, were a child
even though it was there
in your clear, pleading eyes.

“What I meant was hit me with a sign,”
I later watched you explain
because sex, violence was swept
away by thick clouds of cotton candy,
doused in vanilla, buried in glitter.

What I gazed at was not mine
and years would reveal you a prisoner
but still I remember the way hope stretched
endless before me, a blank page, the future
to be written in swirls of milky gel pen.

It was almost divine. Our world teetering
on the edge of new connections, lives
blooming into networks intertwined like
stars, which encase the entire night if only
as separate orbs of solitary light.

How many lives? But nobody was looking
up, only into the new webs of oblivion
on that uncharacteristically beautiful day
when tall buildings stood majestic
against clear blue skies.

How do we reverse the steady march of time?
When the truth is a moving target, it
swoops in, whisper against the wind,
a shimmying, dancing mime

that lures us to the start
where in the end we missed

the signs
and the first plane
and then the second
one more time