Self-Portrait as a Restless Person Who’s Not Disappointing You by Peter Leight

When I open my mouth it’s full of fresh air,
the veins in my wrist are sticking out, as if they’re waiting to open up,
it’s not tiring,
not at all,
when I’m restless I press my nails into my wrists, pulling back my tongue to make room for the air,
not waiting for a rest period,
staying away from rest areas and resting places,
not even pausing to rest,
I don’t want to spoil anything.
If you’re waiting for something that isn’t happening what are you actually waiting for?
I don’t want you to think I’m distancing myself, or keeping my distance,
I don’t want to disappointment you,
or to be cruel,
it’s sad to be cruel,
disappointment is sad
but it isn’t cruel,
of course there are times when you need to be sad and times when you need to be cruel,
I don’t think it’s disappointing.
As long as I’m restless I’m leaning forward with my lap slanted, pulling my knees behind my ankles to straighten up,
not looking for a rest stop
or a rest home,
not even a private rest,
not even tired of resting, like the hunger you feel when you don’t even know what you’re hungry for.
Technically I’m not even a flight risk,
not turning my back,
that’s not what I mean—
I don’t want to disappoint you,
or to be sad,
it’s cruel to be sad,
it’s not even disappointing,
when you say where are you I say where are you,
I believe we’re agreeing with each other.
I hope you don’t mind,
if I’m trembling it’s only because I’m holding my wrists against my sides with my head in the air like a passenger.

Peter Leight lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. He has previously published poems in Paris Review, AGNI, Antioch Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, FIELD, New World, Raritan, and other magazines.