Monday, February 28

the elegant pathways of time through the heart


keep this as a record of who we've been.

it happened, so get used to it. the past
is done; done for & done to. red dust settles- that awful state
where everybody seems to be going, as of late-
to escape the drear. so here they left us
mad dreaming every winter's day.

what was it i imagined? that bare-walled place you dressed up with clocks & posters,
without air conditioning - the money spent on wine,
on cheese and crackers and matching chopstick-holders
this pervasive nesting habit
gets expensive. what about? years of a life left on the curb.
who would have thought? the walls freshly bare again, when you moved out.

there were parties here, and when the guests left there was love.
but this was long before
she locked the bedroom door;
you can never get it back. okay
but some things don't really change.
(her awful gums, a face segmented into parts,
the gruesome way shadows fell on her neck--)
(his face like a frog's, his straw-hair curling,
his unbearable slink)

he is gone. we can manage to look back,
she had long wrists like yours.
i would give anything for my long shadow to meet his in the night,
but my shadow is shortened when I am down on all fours.

but keep this as a record of who we've been:
like dresses i don't fit into anymore,
relationships that went downhill,
bodies we shed like skin.
keep this record of who we've been.

hairstyles we've sprayed on and washed out;
dress up sessions in the bedroom, makeup smeared on pillowcases and cheeks;
emotions that don't really stick, but like stray threads, get caught:
things we thought were permanent and things we knew were not.
the look in your eyes, the glow within.
keep this record of who we've been.

 like purses i've transferred my things to
and out again, to make way for the new.
my life is a hat i found in the freebie box.
before it was mine it belonged to you.

we had walked over from a few blocks down,
my heels getting caught in sidewalk cracks. my hat
so many times near-stolen by the wind. i was bone girl then, & you
like a secretary with your hair streaked and straightened.
the sameness - everything in untouchable order,
a perfect house arranged to allow guests into your happy heart.
what pushed us together? what pushed us apart?

she is gone now. she is gone now.
in the middle of the night I shiver and you ask what's wrong.
time moves like water, digging fissures in the heart as things move where they belong.

 in the grocery store you wonder about the future.
in the bread aisle i choke on words. it simply isn't wise to speak
but the words rot in me, and make me weak.  i laugh off my devotion like a joke.

later on i drive you home & thank god i never spoke.

there is symmetry between us, though not in any expected ways:
in April, when trees blossomed around the lagoon,
from our separate bedrooms, we stared out towards the moon
and prayed for release from this parade of days. in the library, i paced the rows of shelves.
in our heavier forms we walked home by ourselves.
Brick road, brick apartment, christmas lights in the spring.
Even at night, if you listen carefully, you could hear Frank Sinatra sing.

Greyhound buses leave each day, and the airport never sleeps.
I say Cleveland is not so bad, but I think this city loses two for every one it keeps.
We're determined to be happy here, even if that joy is blind.
Driving under the overpass
I am full of praise- I rise & soar & hit the gas - I sing a small amen.
Every time my empire falls, I always start again.
This is the strength we've been left with, you and me.
We will find our way like rivers find the sea.

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