The State of Main

posted Feb 21, 2012

       Take the day,
                     for example,
                                   my older sister asked             
                                                                             the abbreviation for the state
                     of Maine
                                   and in my head,
a disconnect,
                                                        her words
                                          not making sense
                                                                             to me,
                                                                                                  thinking she wanted
                                                                                                         the acronym
for some psychological
                     condition of being
                                                        “main” or “mane.”

                                                                      I don’t understand what that means,
                     I said,
                            and she looked at me exasperated
                                                        and repeated, You know, the state, the state
of Maine?                               
                                          I still didn’t understand her:
                            I have never heard of that before, I insisted.

What was this affliction?

       What were the symptoms,
                                                                      and was not understanding
       your own language
                            one of the signs?
                            When someone is
                                          in this state,
                                                                      do they ever get out of it?
And if they do recover,
                                                        in that moment
                                                                                           of healing,
                     do words and phrases
                                                                      make sense,
                                                                                           like the apostles
                                                                                                  suddenly struck
with the gift of tongues,
                            not quite sure how
                     they were forming
                                                        the sounds coming out of their mouths
but trusting that they were Good?

                                                                      Maybe the State of Main
was this sensation
                                                        of knowing
                     washing over me,
                            when she finally said, sighing,
                                          The state, the state—
                                                        you know how there
                            are fifty states in the country
                                          that we live in
                     and one of them is called Maine
       and it has an abbreviation
which we put on envelopes
to send letters to people.
And your name is Damian,
and I am your sister.

Oh! I exclaimed,
for the word
and the world
once again
made sense:


Damian Fallon’s work has appeared in Five Points and Tar River Poetry. He lives in Brooklyn.

We’ve published two more poems by Fallon: “Bats” and “Time.”