Lips apply the lightest— Shelter
the soft— Close as hidden—
The margin half-hidden—
The sidelines chewing—
Left to get—
Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art 36
Churches are worn
down to agree—
I would rock—
Good Foot 4
The bride smells complete— A field
under a fence— Straight through
into empty— Time
that whole inch— Carried
up to her
I’ve been a
in this— A tongue’s
constant— Is this
A typo in—
The long approach— Toy
cigarette girl actually
pretending— The artificial
The devil just walked—
A Guffaw Follows This
I emptied my apartment of him. Now,
chest out, all of the mail comes for me. I
hear the thin click of thick needles. The how
of knitting’s not hard. But the why. I try
to knot up what’s passed. We were once able
to maintain an even tension. I know
I’ll open his letter easy, cable
stitch something in it. I keep the heat low,
layered in new sweaters. He’s living on
an island full of rain and bright paper
umbrellas. But cabernet sauvignon
is his favorite water or vapor.
I am learning to crochet, to make use
of the art of one implement. Stamp. Truce.
I told her to devote a lot of time
to losing Long Island. I told her to
rearrange the furniture, try to mime
each of our rented rooms. I told her to
dust objects in order to know them well.
I told her to be something like precise,
to shop carefully, to take the hard sell.
I told her to sift through the long-grained rice.
I told her to keep her lips wrapped around
a candy cigarette. I told her I
couldn’t stand the smell of smoke or burned ground.
I told her to do something about my
hidden dinosaur. I told her to make
herself sober, to dance, to smile, to shake.
She Goes Finally, Gone
He’s sadder than leftover buttons or
pie. He sees he’s an unwanted circle
or just a piece of one. What is it for,
this doctor’s visit. It’s historical,
he thinks, or a reminder. His girlfriend
had pale pieces of hair. She always wore
a single hurt color. He can’t defend
her actions. He ignored them, shut the door
each time she left. He preferred watching her
with his glasses off. It’s not the framing
of her that offended him, but the grr
of her face. He wasn’t used to taming
creatures, so it’s now terrible for him.
Like any good silence. Sharp, quiet, dim.
A Storm Quickly Becomes a Depression
Still, she feels like a dog left outdoors in
a hurricane. Their arguments carry
their own aftershocks. The salt on her chin
tastes like a memory she must marry
each night. Daffodils are, in every kind
of weather, the most faithful of flowers.
He often brought them to her. He would bind
the stems with jewelry. Outside she cowers
in the rain. Ugly— a fresh chicken out
of its egg. She suggests they start over
separately. But she’s been soaked in doubt.
And then he hands her something green— clover
bunched by red string. She promises not to
put her shoes where he sits. Her sky’s bright, blue.
The Past as Possible
He argues that more people were alive
at that time, but she knows he doesn’t know
what he is saying. He’d wanted to drive
as far from the past as possible, show
her that most things shouldn’t be just one thing.
His teeth slide behind the clasp of his lips.
He shaved early this morning. He won’t sing
on this car trip. At the hotel he tips
generously, but feels the need to skip
the elevator operator who
looks at her legs, appears eager to trip
him up. She unpacks, polishes one shoe.
He wants her shining eccentricity,
remembers fucking her, wants it gritty.