5. I FOUND A HEART IN A NEWSPAPER WITH “FOR FREE” ETCHED OVER it and read it twice. I wrote this on the back:
"All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me. That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?"
I pocketed it in late, rainy June: sad memories.
I remember the drive from desolation.
The sky, once filled with passion, was empty --
But her home felt hot.
Nervously unfolding the note.
Nervously checking the address.
Nervously moving through rain and fog;
Through the opening door and
Nervously exclaiming, “Hi.”
I haven’t forgotten that thunderstorm, it’s heralding:
A FLOOD! 9 PM, 3 DEAD! Three survivors.
-- shadowlike objects leaned forward to hear.
The trees and wind coughed? You can’t be sure,
But you hear chaos in the dark
You’re groping towards. Your feet are awkward;
The heavy clothes cling to you -- you just want
To take them off.
Our new life was always starting again.
We met first at a restaurant
She needed a light; the conversation wasn’t forced.
Her hand writing on the note was refined:
Salt mixed with sweat and rain; ions, channels
For electricity into my body.
When I look for God, I visit her -- Most of all
I remember the end of it.
4. She said, “Meg’s sleeping”; she said, “Keep quiet.”
Her darkened, pale-walled bedroom lit by her voice;
The house tired and noisy, the quiet porch.
Each small sound the sigh of a ghost trapped beneath
Fragile floorboards. My ear pressed to the wall,
I heard the moment of death. I found fist-
Sized cavities scarred into drywall.
Death, my friend, walking quietly before me.
We’re comfortable, I’m not getting rid of him.
We’re both smiling, but I quietly cried
When I thought the thunderstorm
Had pushed its way in, followed me,
Tip-toeing gently underneath my own feet,
Like acid on the groaning floorboards.
I couldn’t take it, we exited to the porch and waited.
3. “You get it?”
“Yes, but they’re all pretend, those faces you see, they put them on one night, for that night only, not like the others they wear at work or on the phone with…”
“I had another dream about her.”
“She calls me… about Mark. How he’s doing. And about Jess…”
“Yes, but they’re dead.”
“Yes. And, then I remember that. So, I say, ‘They’re dead, I thought… Who is this?’ Then the line is static.
… … … … … I’m sorry.”
“In some way ………….. It’s like everyone dies again...
“When I wake up?”
You’re losing it! Wake up!
2. One, two, three, four, five, none --
I count noises from the house.
I count steps down to the yard.
I close and open my eyes slowly.
Her blonde hair is the sun at midnight,
The lawn is hushed by breathy trees.
There is a warm-heart-beat, a terrible realization,
A fighter plane struck by friendly lightning.
Dog snarling, image walking, talking with
The smooth rhythm of his tongue.
And she tells you he is a friend.
Do not be afraid, everyone is safe tonight,
And those other things, people, and places
Never existed, never were.
She pets him: six, seven, eight, nine soft noises
From the lonely visitor.
We give him the sandwiches.
“But, I still think I see her…”
1. The yard gets more and more crowded as I dived into memory. You hit the water head first and linger for a brief second -- submerge -- disappear with your growing wings -- you fold inward against yourself, sprouting into something dangerous, a moth, a villain, her tomb, her coffin, a cup of coffee… the last one you drank with her, you emptied your cup -- stared into her circular face, more of the same -- you say, to her,
“MORE OF THE SAME!” … we went through it again and again.
“Well, what about Mark and Jess?”
You stare into her face, into her eyes, and she stares into red eyes, and there are lines, going up and down her face, circles of lines, short lines of laughter -- long lines of panic and jealousy, engraved into her silver skin -- a touch would be electricity for your flesh, the pin-prick sensation of broken love -- your heart folded like moth wings, empty hands on the table, like the napkin over your lap -- you’re done. So, you say that, but keep looking into her eyes and nothing moves. It was nice while it lasted, but you’re done -- eaten, chewed, a regurgitated circular mess, and it’s all there, reflected in her stony eyes, the hum of the ceiling fans, the empty waiter, flirts and smiles, the old man chewing loudly from the corner -- right there, wrapped into those dark holes -- a singularity of your existence, that brief look -- she leans forward, one quick breath, the candle out, but you’ve already flooded into the streets with the sound of her breath pulling you, but you move faster than humming ceiling fans and old men chewing, faster than broken voices at the bar, than cries of angels on the street corner, faster than sputtering cars can crash -- you are moving forward into a new universe, but that moment is everything. You are trapped in memory, in singularity, coiled in your bed like ouroboros.
“… her face on other people’s faces… sometimes.”
“In my face?”
“Yes, in your face too… like at the restaurant… like right now.
“The days and nights blur together anymore. It’s hard to find the ability to see through all the fog that stays inside of my head -- I go in circles and find myself falling asleep waiting for the rain, wondering about life, about the loud noises, about newspapers and obituaries. When I wake up, and go outside, I think I see her at the end of the yard in a blood red wedding dress, smiling. God, God… I don’t know. I see His shadow stretched across the lawn in the shape of a cursed crucifix. What life is this? I place an ad in the paper for them all every year. I fall asleep listening to small splashes under the moon, cringing, but each one is small, just slips away gently.”
Maybe you should quit it all? Move in here? Just… stay with me.”
“I can see myself here… as one of those men who live on the outskirts of town, a quiet life, a town where no one goes, can you see that? Do those men know they are there, completely crazy? Did they see it coming? Do they want that? Do they choose that?”
0. A cold, gray light cuts into our flesh. The world is fear.
You can hear her laughter in the dark, tangled wood,
A pure symbol of emotion, an animal that paces
Back and forth, a parrot, bright bitter lime, sun-
Cast on a fluttering red wedding gown.
The wind picked up, and she pressed herself close,
I thought I heard her thinking because her voice
Was caught in her throat.
It was a strange clicking sound, like the cold
Had set in her heart. I felt deep regret.
I felt eyes all over my body:
Not body on body. Just a blank stare.
Not body on body. Just pent up rage.
A shadow, not me, walking the street, but it was like
The skeleton cross painted over the lawn,
It was Death walking quietly before me,
Something that just wasn’t there.
“You can stare right through me tonight,” I tell her gently,
And I can stare right through you, too.”
“We’re both waiting behind windows that can’t be opened.”
I say, smiling: “No. I saw you, believe me, standing quietly on a lost shore,
With the fog of memory pressed gently against your back.
When I held you, we evaporated.
And, I thought, quietly… that’s love.”
One language of love is poetry.
It’s there, like nowhere else, really;
You listen for it, but can’t hear.
Or hear it as a dream
Forgotten at work the day after.
That’s why time gets to me --
The question is always the answer.