september 2008

breaths between parentheses

in tiny increments it unfolds, unwinding in spirals
like crumbling walls realigned;
you are new Prometheus with thorns in your hands,
the new age Jesus Christ–
but you are no postwar martyr. you hung these chains yourself.

and i, in promising to take you down from your cliff: am i crazy,
or is this what love means?

i may never know, but i can’t stop trying.

swingline

we are separated, he said.
distanced, you might call it, separated, “we don’t get along so well now”–
whatever the case, damn it, it’s over.

i know, i said quietly. i figured it out the day your stapler disappeared.
i opened my hands wide, gesturing to the empty space on the counter
where the Swingline once sat. it was brand new, candy apple red
(candy apples are not actually that bright, why do we compare things that don’t make sense?
i wonder.) and when i snuck behind your back and pushed papers between it
to marvel at its bonding powers it would snap.
snap
snap,
snap.

i put my fingers between the teeth once
and felt the tiny steel pierce my cold skin. it bled a little bit, but not much.

he eyed me quizzically, shook his head in my mother’s
“I will never understand you” gesture.
we stood still.

i stared at the space where the stapler used to be,
remembering the time i tried to staple myself, hoping it would keep me together.

now, standing on either side of a gulf ever-widening, the truth hurts:
not even steel clawed fasteners from your (not really) candy apple red swingline
could keep us together anymore.

run my mouth, or

it’s

   too

      quiet

                  in

                           here.

i am bereft;

 my hips still curve in the shape of your palms around them.

the bed is smeared with your tangled contour lines

(continuous line, not blind, never blind) and

 my feet keep sinking into your prints in the carpet,

warm from your last great voyage.

 if i close my eyes, my hands automatically form your outline.

all the while,

 i am grasping at air.

so, what do we do now?

it’s cold here, and quiet.
I’m sitting with my legs crossed,
gazing at my hands–
wondering if they’re too soft now, I suppose,
to rebuild walls, to turn locks
and slip keys surreptitiously down my throat again.

it’s cold here.
it’s quiet.
the wind is blowing softly,
clean over my face. it’s a little raw,
picking gently like curious infants
at the open spaces on my skin.

and i’m thinking…

and i’m thinking.

i wanted you to be here.
when I folded up inside myself again– because that can’t be avoided–
i wanted you to be there with me, tucked in the crevices of me
until your ink stained my canvasses and we made Pollock splatters
on the television screens of the cinema of life;
i wanted you to be here when i shut down again.

i think i hoped you’d start me over
and now,
now–

all i know now is I let you in too far; I gave you too many keys,
and knocked down the walls you couldn’t break.

tell me something, my darling:
what do I do now with the empty fields you left behind,
where the winds blow so clean and sweet and softly now?