your thighs off my hips.
As far as I’m concerned
they are all surgeons. All of them.
They dismantled us
each from the other.
As far as I’m concerned
they are all engineers. All of them.
A pity. We were such a good
and loving invention.
An airplane made from a man and wife.
Wings and everything.
We hovered a little above the earth.
We even flew a little."
We stretched a ladder between our second-story
windows and tried to get the dog to go
across to see if it would hold but it didn’t.
My ambivalence must have made the dog fall, I
called across to him. He picked up his tin can
and said, I can’t hear you unless you speak
into the tin cans, remember? What did you just
say? Sono spiacente, I said. Nevermind. Slicha.
You are probably wondering now if the dog’s okay,
but do you think you could stay with me, anyway,
even if I never gave you the answer? This was
so long ago, farther back than yesterday,
when you and I spoke for the last time. You said,
Why did you leave so early? And I said I couldn’t
sleep and you asked me why I didn’t tell you
at the time; you would have hit me on the head
with something hard. Let me ask you, could you
imagine a cloudless sky above a Nebraska plain?
Could you draw it? Could you imagine yellow birds?
Could you visualize the soft sound a door
makes when it closes and sticks and I thought I
had problems, but seriously, look at yourself.
Look. I had this incredible dream last night
and I’m not even going to tell you about it.
In Russia, the young girls who die violent deaths
either end up like birds in Pushkin or like fish
at the bottom of lakes, where they comb each other’s
hair all night long, where they teach each other
the lyrics to every Talking Heads song
so they can lure sailors into their shadowy grottoes
and drown them. They say there once was a rusalka
who wished to be human so badly she gave up
her voice to be with her beloved and of course
he loved her because who wouldn’t love a girl
who can’t talk back, but then one night
at a masked ball he got distracted by a foreign princess
with an elegant neck and the rusalka was so despondent
she went to a witch and somehow communicated, I’ve
never been so unhappy in my whole life. What should I do?
And of course the witch told her to stab him with a dagger,
and of course the rusalka considered it. Like, seriously?
Seriously stab him with a dagger? But ultimately she
decided she would rather lose her human life and
go back to being an underwater death demon.
At least in the opera version the prince realizes
his terrible mistake and goes hunting for a doe
only to find the rusalka in her last moments and
kisses her knowing it means death and eternal
damnation. Here I am now, watching the moonlight
dance across the water in the retention pond, staring
at this scalpel and trying to forget your address.
The lungs were my idea.
Breasts, mine, though he agreed.
He tried to name his favorite organ
Mr. WInky, but titles were forbidden from the start.
Laughter was a vital sign,
amended to a ticking in the chest.
We called the heart the heart
because we could not say its real name
even to each other, even in the dark.
You are beautiful as a telephone, colors
of bone, rocket ship, and cocktail lounge—
Hmm, says the neon sign, starting
an unfinishable thought.
Where do we go from here?
I’m a balloon,
each minute you don’t call is a breath
you blow into me.
I want to be the crackers in your soup,
I want to be your brass compass. Oh, mister,
just thinking about you curls the ends of my hair.
The clock tisk-tisks.
Moon, you old spinster, don’t you mock me
with your pockmarks and your slow, slow travels.
Moon, what would you know, cold as cheese?
Behind a far-off door, a thought about me is being formed
out of nothing but light.
And when that phone does ring—"
I no longer need you to fuck me as hard
as I hate myself.
Make love to me
like you know I am better than the worst thing I ever did.
I’m new to this
but I have seen nearly every city from a rooftop without jumping.
I have realized
that the moon did not have to be full for us to love it.
We are not tragedies
stranded here beneath it.
I love incorrectly.
There is a solemnity in hands,
the way a palm will curve in
accordance to a contour of skin,
the way it will release a story.
This should be the pilgrimage.
The touching of a source.
This is what sanctifies.
This pleading. This mercy.
I want to be a pilgrim to everyone,
close to the inaccuracies, the astringent
dislikes, the wayward peace, the private
words. I want to be close to the telling.
I want to feel everyone whisper.
After the blossoming I hang.
The encyclical that has come
through the branches
instructs us to root, to become
the design encapsulated within.
Flesh helping stone turn tree.
I do not want to hold life
at my extremities, see it prepare
itself for my own perpetuation.
I want to touch and be touched
by things similar in this world.
I want to know a few secular days
of perfection. Late in this one great season
the diffused morning light
hides the horizon of sea. Everything
the color of slate, a soft tablet
to press a philosophy to.
They have photographed the brain
and here is the picture, it is full of
branches as I always suspected,
each time you arrive the electricity
of seeing you is a huge
tree lumbering through my skull, the roots waving.
It is an earth, its fibres wrap
things buried, your forgotten words
are graved in my head, an intricate
red blue and pink prehensile chemistry
veined like a leaf
network, or is it a seascape
with corals and shining tentacles.
I touch you, I am created in you
somewhere as a complex
filament of light
You rest on me and my shoulder holds
your heavy unbelievable
skull, crowded with radiant
suns, a new planet, the people
submerged in you, a lost civilization
I can never excavate:
my hands trace the contours of a total
universe, its different
colors, flowers, its undiscovered
animals, violent or serene
its other air
its paradise rivers."
Unexpected meetings occur in a forest,
on a mountain,
by the sea.
I shook hands with the men.
So. Is that a yes?
Some of us have taken off our wigs.
The immense, the colossal weight
of our hope. Sex is part of it.
Do you think I’m pretty?
[The future will present itself with unimaginable
ruthlessness. But we can guess.]