…Couldn’t shake the feeling
you’d just strapped yourself
inside the throat of a dragon.
The crowd sang goodbye,
at zero you broke the thick quilt
of cumulus, but
I never watched you go.
– from “A Letter That Spaceboy Never Received”
We are here until we aren’t, and when we aren’t, sometimes we are dragons or angels or the waiting that exists until we come home. Armin Tolentino’s We Meant to Bring it Home Alive (Alternating Current Press) is not mournful. Rather, it’s a collection of longing and waiting, and coping with the idea that we can “wait for nothing, and nothing comes, as the centuries drag on.” It’s about not asking why or spending time on the what-ifs, but instead turning those thoughts and visions into those of dragons and those of venturing into the abyss of space. It’s trying to find the anchor. It’s the not flinching, and the not missing a moment of return.
This is a collection of survival in spite of all that happens in life. It’s the learning of “the sound liquid makes as it works through the body’s waterways.” The unrelenting feeling that while life is draining from one body, another is taking it back.
It’s a collection of letters and fireworks and ashes that will hopefully find their way back from whence they came. It’s the 50/50 chance that all will be well, and that the spaceboy can travel, and the dragons survive, and that extinction happens regardless of what we do. It’s the reminder that “His children survived, grew old, thanks to this sacrifice.” It’s the wonder of what happens when everything feels like wasted blood and the hope that we can bring it home alive.