the last time I held a river in my hand
it was December a bludgeoned wisp of
wandering things rimming the frostglazed air
it was a night when the salted asphalt
bloomed with answers and the wheels
sliced clean and sure through the equations
and the river swelled a coward born strong in
an age of laughter its fingers snaking cold and
quivering into mine begging for home a wasted glimpse
but I was bleeding with the heat of goodbyes said
with breath held like cemetery or tunnel dares and
I could not turn home only to face the metal endings.
It had the feel of sunlight brushing shoulders with dark clouds—a stained, stretched yellow that fell thin and anemic across the concrete.
That concrete never ceases to glimmer weakly with half-remembered raindrops and dream deposits left to evaporate, to salt and grow old, to wait for snow, to wait for the grass.
The grass broke pearl and young and dew-eyed through the cracks in the cement, a simmer scar of what was covered and crushed, of what decided again to be.
Today I am not the sunlight or the clouds or the concrete or the rain or the grass. I am the air, burdened with the breath of the world, a linger that will pass.
I am a wind dance in the pre-dawn, the stir before the broken day.
I do not identify as
this is a tilted landscape
it would like you to think it is yellow
(I know better it is actually magenta with feathers)
cartography is for the unadventurous
we will attack with blindfolds and tubas
our goal: to raise purgatory
much more polite than hell
ten minutes to warmth
I should hire a stenographer
because I like my words but not the
sound of my own voice
my blood is Italian but when
I sing I must be Irish
don’t ask me why though I suspect it
is because civil wars make better songs
I think your chair is haunted
I wear stilts because I cannot be
intimidating when I am small the
ghosts are afraid of heights
I stake my pain on how long it takes
to drive in the fast lane to the hospital
there is a blessed moment between
I cannot identify the flowers in your garden and
it doesn’t matter because they are what is
Our terracotta souls are chipped but we
are not hollow yet. If the veins of spirit linger
cracked and writhing we can always pray. Fingerless,
we cannot feel the grass tickling our sweaty lifelines.
When we are nature again I will be smiling.
I count the wrinkles in your shirt until my eyes sting.
They help me track the language of your body the
moments of creases and somersaults and strained muscles,
where you slept on your side because the ceiling is intimidating.
I do not have time to dissect the symbolism of the candle.
It flickers, it dies.
Today I realized I have preconceived notions about feet.
Today I realized heels can bruise if provoked.
Today I realized the pain that comes from walking over gravel with a bruised heel.
Today I realized I have preconceived notions about skin:
I should say something ironic about Achilles’ heel
but there is nothing ironic about bearing the injury of a
dying Greek because even if he had license to sleep you
still have to keep walking.
I would run marathons in the summer, because I could,
and each mile I felt my kneecaps thinning and there
were moments when the earth and the air sucked in on
each other and reality abandoned me in the grassy stretch
while I was existential for twenty seconds before the finish.
There were times when I drove to the lake planted
alien and dying in the quaint and suburban, nature
sweet and clear suffocating in the swarm of brick and
garden gnomes. I let my feet dangle in the water that was
not blue or green but both the way some eyes change in the
weather and I don’t even live in that neighborhood anymore
but that lake was mine. I went to England and felt at home
for the first time in my life even though my feet were
always cold and the food was always bland. I felt at home
even though I hate Dickens and knew that the lack of sun
would probably be the death of me for all the wrong reasons.
In the presence of a stranger I cried on the edge of the harbor
in Baltimore the first time I had too much to drink but the tears
were clean and honest and my dress remained unstained. I never
learned how to do cartwheels or how to hold my pencil the
right way or how to make a ponytail without hanging over
the side of my bed but I turned out alright.