On the morning of my seventeenth birthday
in the bathroom mirror I caught a glimpse
of the small black circle in the center of my chest.
As with most things I took no notice
and ran off to attend to the day's celebration.
Over the next year the circle grew until I could fit
the tip of my finger in the hole.
Carefully I pressed and examined the space.
Like it had been numbed,
I felt pressure but no pain.
Had there been any discomfort
it may have raised some alarm,
but as it was the space seemed harmless
as if the small black circle had been with me
By the time I’d gone off to college
the small black circle was the size of a shot glass.
How perfect, I thought.
Into it I poured and I poured and not a drop dripped.
As I failed at my scholarly pursuits,
the small black circle
grew to the size of a fist,
the tissue surrounding turned irritated and taught.
I signed my over my body and mind,
put on a uniform and covered the hole.
In the desert the small black circle grew to the size of my heart
and I tried to fill it with anything and anyone I could find.
Sand and sad letters, songs about endings.
As an actor I thought myself quite convincing
though looking back I doubt I fooled anyone more than myself.
By the time I left the service the small black circle
had become a cavernous and ravenous beast.
Regardless of what it was fed
it's appetite never diminished
and I began to live in such a way
guided no longer by my own desire
but instead to satisfy that infinite maw.
At thirty I turned to address the bathroom mirror once again
with purpose to examine the now gaping hole.
As I peered in I saw shadows of the things I'd once loved
stuck in the residue of the pills and booze
I'd tried to use as glue to stem the decay.
The amalgam, of course, had proven corrosive
the once perfect circle had grown jagged, ugly, and red.
Only then did I pause to reflect.