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Jane Doe Aug 2018
His thin shoulders,
Dutch nose

the hair at his temples is grayer than when we met
five years ago.

Something I can’t quite put my finger on.

My love for him
is a ships in the night love.
We circle, cutting separate pathways through
a vast ocean, on course for something


that keeps us signaling
onward, onward.

We look to the past privately but do not
speak of it.

The times our bodies touched.

I count them (I think he also does.)

One: the way I used to graze his arm with my hand
Two: an accident, swaying with music, too close
Three: drunk with the courage to kiss one another
Four: sweat, bed, the sun rose and I held his hand at the door
Five: years later, a hug that lingered,

the times we are allowed to touch one another,
hellos and goodbyes, in cars and trains.
We continue to pass one another.

And when we talk, we talk
and laugh and I feel a churning of waters,
a warm ocean swell that says: this is it!
Hold this.

The tide runs out,
Ships press forward on prescribed routes
through blind oceans.
Jane Doe Jun 2018
I haven’t shed him like I should have,
an undercoat that I didn’t need.
Too hot on my belly, stifling
and dangerous.
Heavy layers that take on water –
if they get wet they could pull me under.

I should have shed him like a snakeskin.
It’s wrapped around my throat, taut over my
thighs, my *******, my eyes.
It aches familiar, a size too small.
I’m wrapped in it like chicken meat – sterile,  
unable to grow.

His heart is a rejected *****.
It looked plump and pink but it didn’t fit.
His organs and my organs pressed together,
Hair, bone and skin, but the sepsis had set in.
Now it lives in my throat,
a bile I can taste but I can’t throw up.

I offend myself with my desire.
This tether, woven by my own fingers  
going over and over the same patterns.
His mouth, my mouth, the words we say
are not magic, not a promise
but a sarcophagus.
Jane Doe Apr 2018
I know the names of all the birds
in your language and my own.
If I tell them to you –
is that enough?

That would not be enough.
My life’s careful machine would have to
be halted – parts would have to
be removed and replaced.
The cost would be enormous.

I know where to find ancient things
buried in the earth.
Coins, broken pieces, bits of pottery.
Is that enough?

That would not be enough.
I cannot take your jewelry
for my fingers – I must not study
your artifacts, those broken pieces.  
Some things must stay below the dirt.

I know where the jackdaws roost
in the quiet bell-tower of a village church.
If I take you there –
is that enough?

That would not be enough.
We could never stand by that
gentle river, in that village
with the old stone church. If I went there
with you I would never leave.

What if you never left?
We would undo all of our choices,
We could run the river backwards,
is that enough?

That would not be enough.
We will stay buried like bits of pottery,
silent as bells in an empty church.  
Jackdaws returning to roost,
remaining in patterns they don’t understand.
Jane Doe Dec 2017
He’s gone again, a plane to India.
The North Sea foams cold, its current
pushes him always away, he goes
I stay and think of him, the woman
he could know - is he alone?
He only feels in love when riding trains.

We last parted frantic, running for trains,
promising let’s meet again, after India.
The doors slide closed, and then I was alone
in the wake of his train’s current,
cursing myself for being the woman
who hang her hopes on a man who goes.

But sometimes I’m the one who goes.
To foreign countries I too have ridden trains.
I’ve played the role of Independent Woman
(although the North Sea was closer than India)
I still fear I lost him in its current.
We kissed goodbye then walked home alone.

Has he counted the nights that he’s spent alone?
Turning over and over – when sleep comes and goes
does memory flow in a deluge, churning current
of possibility lost or missed like trains?
Is he dreaming now, sweating on a bus in India
in all the noise, is he missing a woman?

He told me he cannot find a woman
he can talk to, so he is alone.
It’s adventure he lusts for, it’s India.
It’s only the act of going he loves, so he goes.
But I'd fill the seat beside him on trains
if I could give myself away to his current.

Time rolled over us in its driving current,
now I, always a sentimental woman,
imagine him when I’m riding trains;
remember him when I’m sleeping alone.
I cannot shed my life to go where he goes.
But I count the miles - the North Sea to India.
Jane Doe Nov 2017
We speak carefully
without naming body parts.  
As if the utterance of a word
could evoke touch – which would mean
hearts racing off in jolty cadences, sweat and
altogether too much skin.

We move with hyperawareness of our limbs.
The air ripples and reaches with each gesture
in phantoms of feeling.
I sense the edges of your fingers,
I cannot ignore the millimeters of
space between our knees.

Your mouth curves down at the edges,
when your gummy smile splits
at the things I say. I remember your lips.
I cannot put them away
in a part of me that locks.
Your mouth opening against mine –

your tongue slipping in.
Put it away.
Your mouth on the pulse below my chin.
Turning back in your doorway,
the dawn light white on your skin.
Put it away.

This wanting is something I can keep
like a mantra - a bed with you
won’t again be a bed for me.
Now we drink as strangers or friends
who once pressed their bodies against each other’s –
but heavy snow covers only blur the edges,

nothing disappears entirely.
We speak carefully

to hide the pump of blood and memory.
Jane Doe Sep 2017
You sit across from me in three increasingly
intimate bars, nearer than you’ve been in years,
under lights that darkened and softened
incrementally, old wood and candles,
swallowing beer and the fear that there was only so long
this could go on until you had to catch a train.

There are only so many hours we can face one another,
talk about love and the sting of its absence
and pretend as if we are not addressing
the absence that lives in the space between our bodies.
The space that we dare no longer cross;
our bodies that we dare no longer allow to touch.  

You say that we live in cages woven from the things
we want and the things we cannot do,
and so the freedom we waited for is a lie.
We were betrothed before we knew we had a choice,
we are wed to circumstance and responsibility.
You say I still look lovely, after all this time.

Who are we now? Two strangers at a bar table, leaning
in as close as we dare, thinking that your smile is
still the same, your hair is shorter but your smile is the same
one that I remember from the night I held you to my *******,
sleepless, until the winter sun rose pale.
When we learned our love was born too late and too frail.

One more round you say. I have someone waiting for me,
you have the last train home to make, but yes,
of course, one more round I say
Jane Doe Oct 2014
He misses me still, but that's old news.
He's missed me for so long now - he can do it in his sleep.

He does it while he eats alone at his desk,
while he runs for a train,
while the rain is coming down in sheets.
While a girl takes off her dress and he reaches for her,
his hands hesitate a decimal. He turns off the light,
and misses me.

It grows inside his chest, like a bonsai tree -
something natural but stunted.
Snipped and pruned carefully, but not allowed
to grow outside it's box. Not allowed to put down roots.

He hauled it off, across the sea.
Across China and the Middle East, he misses me.

Half a world apart, in Amsterdam I walk
with my eyes to the ground, all brown and grey.
Thinking of the planes and trains that bore him
This has become second nature for me.

It's midnight in Tokyo, he sits at his desk
in the light from the street
thinking of trees, canals, red bricks, me
and when we sleep, he and I both,
it's with ghosts in the sheets.
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