I can always tell when the air shifts,
the sweet scent of fortune souring like a hand-me-down cloak
around my shoulders.
Maybe you were just putting on airs,
masking and unmasking yourself in the mirror.
When I come in closer,
all your features snap together -
Monet in reverse.
The air between us muddied up
like foggy glass.
We traced hearts with our fingers
and smudged them away,
When it all disappeared into thin air,
I wiggled my toes. There was no footprint of what your body had meant to me.
He tells me he will stay for a little while. I hope he stays and builds a yellow house around my heart. A yellow house with a garden out front. Let him stay, please let him stay.
They told us that tulips were from Holland,
that men in wooden shoes fought and died
to place the blooms in the hands of girls in white dresses.
They fought and died for my mother’s flower bed.
Van Gogh was a graffiti artist, splattering the wheat of his canvas with red paint.
They lied to us when they said those white sands of time would heal –
they erased. They were salt in our wounds,
blood congealing into rubies in the desert sand,
stabbing the soles of our feet, dissolving our illusions.
Tulips came from Persia;
they die in my mother’s flower bed.
Sometimes I feel cold inside. Like the warmth that flows through my body cools a little in my clavicle and drips down over my heart. Maybe that’s why I shake. My body is always trying to heat itself. At times, it freezes – my mind stalls out and my limbs go rigid. Two months ago, it was uncontrollable, explosive. I would writhe and wimper furiously, my brain pulsing like a strobe light. My body told my secrets.
When my muscles contracted, his pale arms were anchors. “I’m not going to let anyone hurt you anymore. I’m going to protect you. I will take care of you.” If I could have spoken, I would not have known what to say. “Our bodies are containers of nerves and impulses that are dark and that we don’t understand but they’re not always like that, they can do beautiful things,” he told me.
My body is a tenement, slowly decaying from the inside. The stairs creak with every cough. The bottles collect along the bed and children wail in their squalor. When my body falls, it will crush me, trap me under the rubble.
He wants to be a scaffold against my spine. He says I told him about my tilted pelvis and how one leg is a little longer than the other while we were outside the library, having a cigarette. I didn’t remember and I blushed when he mentioned it, mentioned my crooked walk. He walks with his feet turned outward as if the soles are bleeding.
Sometimes, he wants to eat the world raw. Sometimes, he wants to consume himself. He lies on my chest and I make the world small for him.
What does it mean when you find a person who lies in your arms and the world nods yes when their cold fingers entwine with yours?
What does it mean to wonder about how eggshells fit together without breaking? The fragility glistens just below the surface – blueprints, treasure maps, paths to failure.
What does this precipice mean, how long will it hold, suspending us in a double act?
Douglas Coupland, Microserfs
Iambic pentameter exercise for class, otherwise know as “poetry strength training”. A labor or love.
“I wish I was a fish,” she said,
the shoal would be my home.
Where bubbles like rosé champagne
replace the fear, replace the pain;
a simple life of solitude
of deep blue waters glazed with grey.
O fluid pottery!
She turned to me, her eyes were muddied up with tears.
Two fishes swim inside my heart,
they’re drowning don’t you see?
“It’s you who’s drowning now my dear”
I touched her arm, I felt the scars -
sweet symmetry aligned like soldiers.
Her tears could never drown her,
yet she would not cease her weeping.
I left her by the shore that day,
I could not stand to watch her heart stop beating.
Forgot I had this in my drafts. Better late than never I suppose. For the other half, see Explaining Loss to a Dead Frog
It was the form that caught my eye, the glimmer of viscera against the stone steps. At first, I recoiled, fearing it was a baby bird – some cruel joke of nature, bringing a nearly naked creature into the world in the middle of January. As I leaned down however, I found it was a frog, had been before the cold had reached skeletal fingers around its throat and death had split its skull in half. Now the frog lay on its back, head in a pool of dried blood, legs splayed open. The moisture was frozen on its skin, causing it to crinkle like yellowed tissue. Its legs clung to the glow of life, retaining their shade of iridescent red. Meanwhile, the frog’s back showed the beginnings of rot – a bloated bump of deep, gangrenous green.
I would have sat there, studying the frozen wasteland of its body, observing the details one can only observe once their subject is dead, but my ears were ringing with the cold and your room was enticing me. I followed you up the steps to that warm enclave where you made me tea as I sat on your bed. Your eyes were a gentle brown behind your glasses as you told me that like the frog, your body was changing. You were toning your muscles, getting firmer. I looked at your arms and my soft stomach quivered. We sat across from each other on your purple sheets at a distance that said we were afraid of what would happen if we got to close.
This is what come of a relationship measured by dead amphibians I suppose. For the beginning, see Explaining Attraction to a Dead Frog
You always said I have to cut you
loose when you were leaving,
as if your very presence were nothing
but a noose looped around my neck or
brandishing you sword, you
ascended the mountain to rescue the fair maiden –
As you lifted your helmet, pushed
your dark hair from your face – one fluid motion – you
were smiling. I could see you when you were young
and you draped yourself in a red sheet,
skidding along the hardwood floors of your kitchen.
I measured our relationship in the dead
frogs that I have found: the first with its head
cracked open, snow stained by viscera,
its pale white belly a snow moon;
the second, crouched in the grass as if just
about to leap, kinetic energy dying with it
as its brown skin turned to cardboard – eyes
still half open.