Since You’ve Gone
I can hear you dropping coins into my bathroom sink.
Patience trickling down between my breasts like sweat.
The rough carpet, the faint beeping of the clock.
One hot night in late August, the eternal swollen dusk of it.
We slept naked, sprawled and bloated with secrets.
I watched the ambulances flashing silent in the street.
Since you’ve gone, I am finding stacks of coins everywhere.
Whose burden are we now?
None of this is as hard as you are making it.
Boston, September 1st, 2014
The late summer air sloshes lazily against the sweltering brick of apartment buildings. Sweaty pavement, bare sticky skin. Everything shimmering and ugly and alive. Here is the hot rubbery smell of subway stations, the noise floating out of sidewalk grates and open windows, the air like bathwater. People move in slow motion, languishing on docks with their feet in the rippling water, smoking on fire escapes and on sun-baked benches and under trees. Moving vans and car alarms and everything sprawling into everything else
Hard to remember that in four months’ time the city will lock down beneath an impossible cold. Everything tight and frigid, shrinking and retreating into itself. The docks frozen in place, the trees gray and bare, the sidewalks and fire escapes and benches sealed with ice. People hurrying with heads bent, skin wrapped up in layers and layers of clothing. A small and scared tiredness, not this careless torpor.
The weeks roll on like a circus train.
Shadows arc, drop over us more heavily each day.
I want to throw a tarp over this summer.
The insular months sealed by thunder,
Light trapped within a hailstone.
World within a world.
I am shutting all of the drawers.
Fragile glass balls knock against each other.
These will be ancient things one day.
"It is not the object described that matters, but the light that falls on it, like that from a lamp in a distant room."
Castile, New York
June country dusk.
Bullet holes in the back wall of the shed,
The wide-eyed stares of shabby unshuttered houses.
The haunted sidewalk, Lovers’ Lane.
Orange streetlights flicker on,
And every evening a low train whistle pools in the stillness.
Who will remember these people?
Here, I am my father’s daughter.
Dented bicycles dragged through the shallow brown creek.
The bleached graveyard, the town hall burnt and gutted.
From a hundred sagging porches, generations scatter,
Loop backwards, disappear.
I wrapped your memories in brown paper,
Warmed your blue hands between my own.
My fear dissolved like a tablet on my tongue.
You fed me stolen plums and cheap beer;
I bandaged your hands and begged you
To swallow my fear like the snakes in the closet.
Brown paper bags stacked and folded.
I painted your hands with blue wax, with baby oil,
The loose colored swirls of our light trails.
The summer goes up in a last curl of cigar smoke
And somatic sadness. Your pink hands gripping the wheel.
I turned my back and didn’t watch you go.
"Who has twisted us around like this, so that
no matter what we do, we are in the posture
of someone going away? Just as, upon
the farthest hill, which shows him his whole valley
one last time, he turns, stops, lingers—
so we live here, forever taking leave."
Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies (via white-noise-essays)
Twin tears, your name like lemonade under my tongue.
The light migrating across the sky. This is life
On the other side of the glass.
This is heartache:
Spiders, the whir of a fan, the dying swell of June.
You sat on the steps, bathed in the apology of my taillights.
In my dreams, we fill a bed and hunt
Through room upon cluttered room. Who knows
What that means. In my dreams, subway trains
Crash into concrete. Child soldiers, the filth of disease.
You are still the empty shape cut out of me,
The negative space through which it all passes.
I picture you, sitting on the sand,
Or on a flowered couch In a white room.
Somewhere, a fragile crystal keeps on spinning.
"Everything can be saved, but I don’t
remember how. I will tell this memory
so many times that it will cease to be a
memory of anything but the telling."
A line is drawn in the sand. Some prop,
Some meaningless measure of loss,
Of cold, of days, of dreams and salt and stone.
Where did it come from? Inside my body, an infinity
Of cells dividing, strands tangling and coding me
Eternally into being.
I have not cut my hair since before everything happened.
That last summer. Communing
With some adolescent god,
My body softly in the grass. A yellow rose, and a sound
Like my grandfather’s old-fashioned slide projector
Suddenly I am watching through the frosted glass
Of my childhood best friend’s shower. Two thin and hairless
Bodies, pale as moonstone, my golden head bent close
To her dark one. Furtive whispers
About things we half-understood.
The smell of green hay and onion grass.
Crouched over a tin toy pot in the neighbors’ woods,
We were spattered to the knees with mud, stirring
The foul salves of our potions before marching
Home from war each night at dusk, emerging—
Triumphant and ravenous—from the husk of twilight
between the cursed forest and the kitchen door.
Twin beds in a blue room.
Two dead cats, an endless drive, and the whole world
As seen from the top of the Ferris Wheel
At the New York State Fair, on a rainy day,
After my first ride on a city bus, my baby sister
Home teething in my grandmother’s arms.
And then, finally, a long-haired woman with crooked teeth.
She is laughing. I toddle behind in my red striped shirt.
This is a false memory, but I know it ends
In our little yard next to the cemetery.
That single yellow rose bush, my young father’s hands
Cupped around a firefly.
Those years spent cross-
Legged in the grass before the advent of destruction,
Before the line in the sand.
Laughing as my aches all knit themselves into being.
May 29th, 2014
i. Rule number one: play by the rules.
ii. I am a Russian nesting doll. I am putting this feeling back inside of myself.
iii. Your secrets are never what you think they are.
White frills of the creek,
Dandelion boats and made-up names of crossings.
Honeysuckle, drifting in, the swollen teat of summer.
My woman’s body in my child’s world, the heaviness
Of the long-drawn sun as it sets
Over the rough-hewn stone wall capping the orchard.
Green hay, the squat bowl-cuts of peach trees.
Shorn branches plastered in pale chalky mud.
A tangle of sumac blocks the old path.
Beads of rain shatter against the window.
Here, I am the prophetess of yesterday,
Proverb swallowed by the wind, psalm without an audience.
Just a white clapboard church, the cathedral of trees.
May 27th, 2014
I am young; my youngness parades itself across my face every time I want to be taken seriously. The heat broke as the thunder ambled across the sky. My mouth red and dripping with strawberry juice. I have a rash on my right arm and I don’t know why.