You are the marginalia in my mind
Lingering in corners,
a slow dance at the end of the night
As though draped in fur, you carry such dead weight—
Cradling your loss as if it were alive
Only in the starlit solitude of night do you shed your cloak,
Exposing such thin skin marred by time
Keeping your secrets
I cannot trap or tame you
Instead I wait for you to drop your weapons,
Leave those carcasses of memory
and come unbridled to the table
I wait for you in the dim hallways of evening,
While the skies turn silver grey
In the golden light of morning, when slowly you rise,
Do you cover your skin and hold your heart still while your blood churns,
The floorboards cracks, the sky ascends?
We are part fire and part dream
Broken lives that haven’t been broken yet
Beneath our covers, hidden in the mess of being human,
Underneath the sweat and bruised skin,
Below the calluses in the most sensational places
Is that dangerous ground we tread
When we pull our hearts from their cages
There’s a million things that could go wrong
but it’s worth the risk if just one moment
Is that moment when everything changes,
When the world stops and starts all over again
For every grey departure, every sky clinging to blue tears,
every awakening that brings you that same heartache,
Learn to speak with the mirroring of the sun
There is no forward or back, just now
Just now and you
Blood buzzing, heart running
We were once timeless.
Standing arm-in-arm our shadows
smoothed memory like water shaping rock.
Love spilled from our tongues
announcing the end of drought.
Slick, we squirmed under each other’s grasp,
rounding corners, forming text.
A whitewash of nouns linked our calloused fingers.
In brows rendered smooth we carved each other’s initials,
muting any distance we carried.
We were once hysterical,
Our tongues tinged with steel.
We caged love, reduced it to dramatic preludes,
as if loving thirsty was not our fault.
Clanging the cage where our collective hearts once lived,
we furrowed our scarred brows, monolithic and dry.
Ripping limbs, clawing at shins, scattering skin about the yard,
We filled our lungs with bloody heartwreck,
Screaming: Heart. Thief.
We were once murderers,
Smoking breaths and chasing heartbeats.
Sneaking about the landscape to suffocate ghosts
who make love in the back of trucks just so they can watch
the sky merge with the mountaintops.
Chewing off tongues, collapsing lungs,
We screamed where is my fucking heart?
Only to find it savage, purple with memory,
caught in barbs, drying in the wide open plains of summer.
Painting by Sarah Morris
I should have been an airplane carcass,
Wing roots severed, tail cut away
Body resting upon the ground
An empty cavity, blue in death, is all that would remain.
My belly would heave the memory of flight:
Of archaic men neatly smoking,
dropping silver ash into armrests—
each shortened breath yellow.
Of seatbacks and upright tray tables
and glamour girls inserting a thousand metal buckles
into the disarray of delays and failed flights.
If I were an airplane carcass
I would have seen this western expanse,
towered over the wild west,
and skimmed across the Great Salt Lake.
I would have followed the glacial pace of the night sky
and awoke in white mornings, bringing the certainty of goodbye.
I would already know a stranger’s touch, a lover’s cry, a dead man’s weight.
Would be able to take this hollow core—
Paint it with the pain of everyone I’d sheltered
and wipe away the stench of loss with each passing day.
I should have been an airplane carcass,
then I would have been ready for you.
Ready to shelter your quietest pain, your creeping sickness,
hold you during the darkest flights.
I’d find us a home among the tiny squares of land that had passed below,
One parcel of possession where sand blows like snow across the roads
Where wind would rip our clothes, rain would seep beneath our skin
And gales would catch our fall.
As though levitating in the wind could remove all sorrow.
I would have been ready for every bad decision
Every trip that led to loneliness, to misery, to joy.
In time gained between layovers
I would have danced in all the oceans, filled my pockets with shells,
Homeward bound with soggy, sand-covered boots on my feet
I would have known my destruction was imminent
Long before I met you.