I like to think of your silence as the love letters you will not write me,
as two sax solos from two ages across a stage, learning the languages
of kissing with your eyes closed. I like to think of you as a god
to whom I no longer pray, as a god I aspire to. I like the opening of your joined palms,
which is like an urn where my ashes find a home. The music of your lashes;
the silent way your body wears out mine.
Mostly, I like to think of you at night when a black screen of shining dust shines
from your mines to the edge of my skin, where you are a lamp of flutters.
I remember the spectral lashes–marigold, tamarind, secret thing between your thighs,
of closed kissing eyes. At night, the possibility of you is a heavy
sculpture of heavy bronze at the side of my bed,
a god. And I pray you into life. Into flesh.
I caught this morning, mourning, sight
of you who flew into sky
you thought your own
and caught the sun down
to the marrow bones, tender embers
scorched there, sputter-guttered there—
let your blackened, blown feathers
fan our rage, outrage us, and now, here,
engage, oh, engage
our careworn careless care—
flame on, flame on you seared ones,
dear ones, you,
take us by the heart, make us see
That child I was came to me
a strange face.
He said nothing— We walked,
each of us glancing at the other in silence, our steps
a strange river running in between
We were brought together by good manners
and these sheets now flying in the wind
then we split,
a forest written by the eart
watered by the seasons’ change.
Child who once was, come forth—
What brings us together now,
and what do we have to say?
Take that thing that happened. To you.
Open it like a concealed rose. Hold it up
to the nose of someone else. Let them
tell you that you still smell sweet. So
sweet. Let that person who loves you pluck
petals out of the gully of your wound. Let
her shave them into points and sail them
back into your heart like paper airplanes. For
that fist at the center of your pulse is of what
you have always been made, despite
your fingers being tipped in thorn. Use them
now to shred the sheets. Shred the night.
No one needs to sleep under that much
cover or on that much polite. Slit the sky.
Let the Gods fall out. The ones who could’ve
let that thing happen in the first place.
Catch them in your pockets. Catch them
in your chest. Put the God back
in your chest, God after God after God. Until
you know yourself. Again. Repeat.
Take that rose, the one your flesh wounds
around. Open it and open it and open it.
Toss bits of your scar into the air
like goddamned wedding rice. Or bird seed.
Let some of them sprout. Into so much green
green new day it makes your shins hurt
with how much you want to run. Forward.
And meet the world without all those
red whorls, those old scars, those stuck stitches
in your side. And we, we will marvel at your
silhouette. My, we’ll say. My, my, my, my, my!
Doesn’t she run like an un-flowering?
Beneath all this I’m carving a cathedral
of salt. I keep
the entrance hidden, no one seems to notice
the hours I’m missing … I’ll
bring you one night, it’s where
I go when I
hang up the phone …
nor your soul is waiting for me at
the end of this, I know that, the salt
nearly clear after I
chisel out the pews, the see-through
altar, the opaque
panes of glass that depict the stations of
our cross — Here is the day
we met, here is the day we remember we
met … The air down here
will kill us, some say, some wear paper
masks, some still imagine the air above the green
trees, thick with bees
building solitary nests out of petals. What’s
the name for this? Ineffable? The endless
white will blind you, some say,
but what is there to see we haven’t already
seen? Some say it’s
like poking a stick into a river — you might as well
simply write about the stick.
Or the river.
We sit around the foldout table as your kitchen
fills with the aroma of Earl Grey and reruns
flicker on the TV, saying you only remember
an episode when certain scenes show up.
Feeling like our time is melting faster than the ice chips
bouncing inside your cup, I start showing off my hand drawn comic
where the story has us save the universe from an evil race of space slugs;
mentioning how I spent all weekend coloring inside the lines
and having dad double check my spelling before writing the words
with Sharpie. Jumping out of my seat to run circles around the table,
yelling about how awesome the suede uniforms look
while you take the Marlboro Reds from your purse,
pop one in your mouth, flick the yellow BIC, and then take a drag.
As I see you exhale, your skin begins to melt:
your glasses slide off as your ears and nose soften into ooze,
splattering the tan linoleum floor; your hands glop toward the table,
pooling as you hunch over; your face, a muck of crevasses;
your bones crack, crumble, then sandstorm out the second floor window.
A smoldering pair of lungs rest on your chair
as the TV continues to flash. Suddenly I remember this episode.
Remembering light breaking through vertical blinds,
numbers radiating from a display beside your golden hair,
your chest bopping up and down like ice chips,
a tube running out from your throat.
Suddenly dad is there. I shove my face into his red shirt,
soaking my tears before trying to hide under a table.
Suddenly family surrounds me; cousin Tommy holds my hand.
Their mouths move, but there is only silence.
Are you okay, babe? She asks,
sitting outside the Coffee Depot
as I stare at the tealeaves swirling
in my mug, You’ve been really quiet.
She rubs my knee, puffing on her cigarette.
I look up, unable to say
as I notice her make up
beginning to run.