That brief moment
Walking into the shaded apartment to find you reading in flannel
And everything in me jumps
The camera obscura of my iris snaps,
Suspending you in amber light.
The tapered elegance of your fingers across a page
A glint of Versailles blue-gold eyes
And fortified ramparts of your shoulders.
I will carry this vestige with me
In a petticoat pocket
Until we are old
And your arms do not lift me as you just did
The last strand of your hair is silver
And your cheeks sink with age like your father’s.
These small gems of youth
To keep in a sleeve until they are needed
And the mirrors show reflections we cannot change
Driving, late, the air is close, the wet contingent of molecules
Gathering across my cheeks, under my eyes.
A dog as white as the moon
Streaks across the road like a fallen star
Sirius descending to earthen night
caressed by a woolen fog, carded by sleepy winds.
The shattered carcass of a bird
crops up from the asphalt
I swerve, leaning against the inertia
the hare's heart spike of my own pulse.
There is a softness to the dark
these small scenes of ghostly death,
a solitude in the hem of night
That somehow feels safer
Than day’s garish glare.
This is a poem for the anger
I keep coiled around my ribs
Because I was taught that anger is an absinthian poison
That will rise like bile in the throat and must be swallowed.
And I realize you may read this
And you may be angry
But I realize with each crunch of bone
I must give myself the space
To uncoil in this way.
I am angry
That you made me a captive reservoir
for the bitter droughts you refused to drink yourself.
You were iron-stomached after years of punches,
that I understood.
Open handed, I wanted to be the exception
But holy palmer’s kiss
Was still not enough to let me cross the threshold.
You are the locked room in the house that the children are forbidden
Only small glimpses between hinges
Of your fear poisoned self
Huddled in a corner, vomiting apologies.
I am angry
for believing I could have lain beside you
every night for the rest of my life
And not starved to death from loneliness.
I am angry
for ignoring how I dimmed each time I waited for you
to want me, to miss me, to think of me,
to ask me to come into your arms,
to find me fascinating, enchanting
to tell me you needed me;
to betray anything that proved I was more than convenience,
A drink that served itself on a silver platter,
Asking to be drunk.
If you only knew how luminous I could be
when loved well.
I am angry
That I still hope you will be waiting by my door after work
because you realized how you starved me
And now you’ve set a banqueting table, a banner over me is love
But I know you will never do this.
I know you cannot do this.
I am angry
that I miss only the space you left,
That I have not yet been able to close the gap
And walk away from your memory.
My mind is an unquiet graveyard;
uninterred mistakes stare up from their open barrows
Milk eyes clearing to glass
As the anxious banshee crosses over them
keening notes drifting
linen strands of her raiment twining around their wrists
Dragging sloughed skin into the murky light
Of repeated examination.
I could be a queen of solitude
if not for this.
If Pandora's voice box were broken
hinges rent, screws loosed from their cavities, wood split
the demons might still, displaced.
Hope is not the last thing in my throat
she was the first to go
with a song unsung
an alto never strong enough to last
beyond the first few flakes of oxygen
I inhale in the morning.
The Unquiet Grave is also an English folk song.
And after, there is only a gaping emptiness
the familiar ache
The desire to drown myself in soft things
Fill my pockets with pebbles and all the poems my muses will never read
And wade into the Lethe
To the place of the first breath after momentary pain
The liminal gasp between sighs
The first touch after a long absence
Body awakening to memory.
Welcome weary traveller, you are safe here. Dwell. Abide.
The scrounging scratching crawl you call a life withdraws.
Float in the fingers of sunlight through glass
The murmur of breath against hair
The glimpse of ripples from a water-strider’s gait.
You are small and safe
You suffer no harm nor cause it
Your existence has curled in on itself
And blooms with the sunrise.
Your presence is a fleck on a robin’s egg
The bruise of teeth on a petal
An eyelash in sand
Lost, lingering, and longing.
The Lethe plucks the pebbles and poems into the current
Your likeness billows with ink in the wake
Adrift, I clutch at your fading hand
But rising, find I do not know this face
Left only with a flicker
Of a stranger’s arms
around my waist.
The sigh of things gone,
echoes of hope and the
small prickles of a blackberry
as I turn it on my tongue
between knives of teeth.
I reach further into the bracken,
The tangle of thorns caressing, hooking themselves into my clothes,
These are familiar pains,
Small scrapes of memory.
Petrichor, a reminder of our last walk
The clouds, tremendous waves breaking across the sky, coming storm
The plucked magnolia blossom wilting in my hand
How bitter it tasted on our tongues
I saw the berries, then, crimson unripe jewels
Vowed a Persephone return when they had turned onyx
And came back alone while you languished
In your underworld.
I can find sweetness amid the pain,
What have you found
To sustain yourself ?
Our epilogue is a grey sky
beneath it are the small plants I care for and bring to bloom
lavender, vervain, rosemary--especially
that anchor me to your memory.
You knew it meant remembrance
How the lathe of time reshapes, shaves
mud from my eyes
on the small abrasive moments
the little thrip-like wounds we never meant to inflict
and how they siphoned the spirit from us.
In the throes of want
I was hungry for more than arms--
there were times I could almost taste your soul
but even on the doorstep
when I caught the key from around your neck
it would never fit into the rusted lock,
despite all your honeyed words.
I have known men with varicolored souls
with wounded souls
with starving souls,
yours-- silver, mausoleum still
a ****** eating snow
to hide any sign of life.
Loving you, coaxing a stag to drink
holding water in my hands until
it seeped from my fingers into the earth, undrunk--
At my feet grew anemone and yew
that do not have a soul
that want only what I can give