Imagine a room,
a sudden glow. Here is my hand, my heart,
my throat, my wrist. Here are the illuminated
cities at the center of me, and here is the center
of me, which is a lake, which is a well that we
can drink from, but I can’t go through with it.
I just don’t want to die anymore.
It was simple to meet you, simple to take your eyes
into mine, saying: these are eyes I have known
from the first… It was simple to touch you
against the hacked background, the grain of what we
had been, the choices, years… It was even simple
to take each other’s lives in our hands, as bodies.
What is not simple: to wake from drowning
from where the ocean beat inside us like an afterbirth
into this common, acute particularity
these two selves who walked half a lifetime untouching—
to wake to something deceptively simple: a glass
sweated with dew, a ring of the telephone, a scream
of someone beaten up far down the street
causing each of us to listen to her own inward scream
knowing the mind of the mugger and the mugged
as any woman must who stands to survive this city,
this century, this life…
I go where I love and where I am loved,
into the snow;
I go to the things I love
with no thought of duty or pity
I lay on the cream shag carpet with my brother
and argue what a kobold is, and is not. I am nine.
Behind the oblong dresser in the basement
is a white stub of chalk with a wolf spider
crouching on it. It does not know I am about to pick it up.
When I am twenty-one, I clutch a cold ten dollar bill.
The gas attendant has a gold tooth.
Says, what are you all dressed up for, missy.
I smooth the gray wool of my bridge coat.
A bell chimes and my shoulder blades flinch.
I cannot see the snowflakes melting into my cuffs.
No eyes watch my body shuffle back to the car
across the ice, no witnesses.
Years later, a lover’s shadow traipses diagonally
across the floor of the limehouse. He’s just told me
he didn’t fall in love with me. The moon in splinters
across stack piles of buildings. I open his refrigerator,
gulp milk from a glass bottle.
There is nothing left for me to do.
My brother has been dead for nine years. A kobold:
a kind of sprite with thin, ivy-colored arms.
See, he is not here to dispute this.
This is what I think when the lover asks why I am
so quiet. My body shaped like a C at the foot of his bed.
My fingers coiled in blankets. Thick and coconut white.
I miss everything.
…I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire…I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.
Travel is a bag you’ve carried
across its own border, wholly uncertain
where you have been, who took your blood,
who kissed the ring.
The city a fickle excitement
you’re firing in, cracker jack, slow dance
of a velvet dress schlepping your next best
ass back to the booth to surprise
all those who figured you’d died by the heft
of your robes.
I adore your terrifying sincerity.