Sun in An Empty Room (The Loft, Still Day – Windsor, CT)

The light of it made up the bulk of it, if I recall, and, somehow, it was still day. Room vacated, barren, a reminder of what had not yet blossomed.

And if I remember it right, cloud shadow cloaked you in the shirt you said you hemmed from the sky, and for some reason I believed you. We counted up our scars beside our freckles and left light for somewhere inside our heads.

But at once, we knew we could never go home.

And if I truly remember, you resisted and embraced the weight of it, despite it, the light not our friend but an informant. It said, “the trees are watching,” but before we could look they stood still as stone.

Somehow it was still day, and somehow you wrapped us in its warm sheets. We matched bone for tired bone until the light said the scene was over.

But hell, our walls clutched the spark of it, housed my silent choler in the heart of it. You let your hair down and honey crept up my throat.

In all that clutching, you and everything you claimed became light through the open window—you had no body, no memory, no way to whisper.

I stayed for years in that loft, Love, clearly waning, but your shape promised it was still day. With all that day , I suckled on the last of it: the sweet in my throat, your shirt made of sky, our scar tissue, what at once almost blossomed.

But when night came, I could only believe you. How could I not? And, if I remember right,  even though the moon scorched the earth, you never did return in the morning.

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I spent today as a camera, shutter propped open, zoomed in on the details: The daisy bursting in the church yard, and the suited man hunched beside it; the shop sign flipped open in the morning and turned slowly over in the evening; a sparrow finishing its nest in the oak tree; and the morning dove’s first time meeting.

And in hindsight, I saw the possibilities:
Like the rainy day, and early morning coffee, happiness creeping like vines on the steeple, and weeds crawling like kids in the grass; or the shop sign untouched for weeks, only fluttered in the wind that tests the nest and the petals; or the drought that cracked the suited man’s skin, and later, his heart.

But after the drought (which didn’t last) I saw rain blanket from nowhere—billow like steam off breath in the autumn, it ran my film into streams and sewers. I shrugged, and left my shutter open for tomorrow.

The Land

Attrition and all its friends
stuck pencils with no lead as spikes
in my front yard.
Similar to Tantalus’s low-hanging fruit branch,
or the Lover,
out of reach and out of time.

 

And now I’m sucking down these cigarettes
because there’s no water: the stream turned to blood,
and the village was frisked by soldiers
who only claim to understand what
(or who)
they fight for.

 

And then my lighter ran empty,
and the smoke spun the light.
I see how I was before,
and she,
my albatross.

 

But Love, this war’s got you mad:
a K-Bar in your teeth,
iron sights trained on the enemy
(your enemy),
the trees, the mountains, the underbrush,
the Land on which you stood.
And hell, you’re wearing all these boys’ tongues now!
Did they get close enough for you to wear them?
And when they did, did you?
Until you dug tunnels in their heads?
Until they had no more war left to give you?

 

I was a soldier for you,
once,
I shot myself in the foot to find my way home.
But now I hope to become the Land,
the trees, the mountains, the underbrush,
where you are my enemy
(the only enemy),
and my vines will use you and all your tongues
for bedrock, for thickened bark, for tombstones.

 

For I am the Land, and you will not starve me.
I will wait,
watch you decay
until we are one.

When She Leaves

Dear Lover,
You’re a midnight sweat
without the immediate aftermath,
waking up to all this space
I’m not used to.
The moon pours
in puddles, tickles my legs
until sun up, again.

 

Dear Lover,
I don’t remember what you look like.
After 20 years
one would think I’d get it right, but you evade
recollection like I evade commitment.
10 years to acknowledge my part,
5 to fix it,
4 to break it,
and forever to see your ghosts.
Timeline’s fuzzy, but you’re there,
somewhere.

 

Dear Lover,
You’re seeping into the others, making love
and your eyes stare back.
I face the wall again,
recompose again,
she says “it’s okay” again,
and I curse, again.
We promise to try tomorrow,
but I swear you’re in the window.

 

and Dear Lover,
I was in the church yard where we made amends,
and since, the steeple donned your passion vines.
And now that I’ve returned,
I see you in them, faded.

 

But now you’re fleeting, Love,
into the tape I’ve left to tear
on repeat: your bed, in summertime,
when evening courted the afternoon to the darkened tree line,
and all we could think was fall could not come.

Day Three After Death

You now live in your pronouns: in your nameless identifiers, in the outline on cracked asphalt, in the too few evidence markers. Maybe if I say your’s enough I could shape the rest of you out of those cherry stems, the green ones we spat out knotted on the fire escape.

But you—no. She—no.

Something is missing. To magnify a chalk outline on the pavement, I need something more than futile hope, more than a neighborhood waiting for the unapt obituary. We need a name; but even I can’t say it. Instead, we pray to the “you” and “she” and “her’s” and “ours”, speak of you in every sentence we have left to say.

A Sermon from the Trees

 

My face in the pond

reminds me of the years when trees

hung bouquets of leaves

from spry branches.

 

But with this inevitable fall,

their green noise retreats

into emptied and subdued

space. But now,

in brittle

silence, I shout.

 

The trees

echo me, beg for their leaves,

raise my earthy ghost,

teach me their desperate spiritual,

lend me their remaining roots.

 

Now, the highway will

creep through the sticks.

The antenna will

puncture the sky.

Now, will I fall silent.

 

In the shadow

of our rusted steel,

I will listen for pooling water,

look to find my eyes

in its tremors.

The Badlands

  In response to Edward Hopper’s painting Western Motel (1957).

She sat up on the new bed, against the new wall with the pleated drapes. The room (that sprouted with modern efficiency) was without cupboards, cabinets or a homely dresser. The window welcomed the curves of the western hills as company, but would not let her see the shadows in those badlands. The room, built for stuffed leather-suitcases and singular hung-up jackets could not contain her feet, hankering for open road, and her dress, yearning to be held.

Again, she, and everything she owned, prepared to leave for elsewhere.

There will be no bursting when she breaks the window. No shattered glass (or in this case, rippled canvas in the western winds) to pull the travelers along, only the hills keeping secrets from this temporary room. In the hills’ shadows, the unmemorable becomes reluctantly memorable, and the memory of the brief life in an unwrinkled room is the only one remaining.

She hopes for her bags to open, for her hand to scribble her name in sharp red ink on the walls, for her jacket to multiply and scatter, for the carpet to smell like her feet, for her car to rust to the earth, for the drapes to hide the creeping hills. But she stares for movement in the room. She hopes for her hand to release, hopes for it to remain.