Low Notes

Once, I believed you sang for me
Even though the girl’s brown eyes were not the blue of these.
It was a relief to become an imagined thing,
A lyric, the leaf atop a walnut shell, bobbing along
On the calm and lilting sea,
The lullaby of you giving the faintest luff
To the edges of our rough but sturdy dreams.
When we turned away from that gust
We found so much calm, we could not progress.
Lazy circles. Days into weeks.
You stopped trying to draw a smile upon my cheeks.
Do you remember I had a dimple?
Do I recall the feel of your teeth?
Your tune, so long
Had pulled me back from any distance
Until I slipped to the crack at the bottom
And tried to plug the leak with my own whispers,
Hoarse and off-key.
My sodden wings
Sucked me through and down
I went
Logged with brine, I was not expecting rescue.
Good thing.
Instead, the tentacle grasp, the inky black
Deafness. Down from up, who can tell? That slick and sucking embrace
Cracked scapulae and pressed the feathered limbs back in
And oh, the sting, my torn and voiceless throat,
The sweet surrender of broken things.
How far did I go? Fathoms
Immeasurable, impossible for a human girl
To descend to those low octaves and still draw breath
So I choose to believe
Only this:
I never left the boat
And you were still there on the surface of things
With your song suspended
Over me, awaiting my reach, my choked “Please.”
If I had spoken this aloud, perhaps.
Assuming our power is greater than that of the ocean,
And that words can turn the winds
And that we are more than just dampened flesh
Salted with such thirst.


At some point we are beyond
picking loose what binds us
one stitch at a time.
The fabric will not smooth itself
back onto the waiting spool
with just a few needlemarks,
its selvage passing as new.

At some point we can only rip
the seams
and open up a ragged divide
over the pattern
we drew together,
the detritus of broken thread
falling from our ruptured edges.

History has taught me a few things.
Repairs are in order
after such a rending.
To keep from unraveling,
gather the fray,
whipstitch into place.
Shore up the fat welt
with boning.
Tuck back. Baste.

Do this often enough
and nothing pliable remains,
just a bundle of scars
dense as a scowl
and nothing can pierce
the petrified mass
but the teeth of a chainsaw,
the smack of the axe.

History has taught me
the trick to staying soft:
Remain one thin
but whole
bolt of cloth.

History has a tendency
to slap her students’ knuckles
with a ruler.
I am a mediocre seamstress
and an even poorer pupil.

We lay one across and over the other
premature promises the shuttlecock
we fire between our loose
and drifting tendrils.
This is how we bind ourselves together,
our edges no longer clean
or even our own.

Make Shift

Candles are cliché. Shopping, a bore.
Practicing signing the childhood name
is just picking at the scabs.

A run is too lonely. A book, too removed.
Vows of poverty smack of desperation
and prayers fall on deaf ears.

Road trips are dangerous. Housework numbs.
Fasting hollows you. Feasting bloats.
Whiskey just makes you throw up.

Movies are escapist.
Scrapbooks sting.
Baths are too girly. A hug, but from whom?
Confession requires a witness.
A red-eye to Vegas is far too expensive.
Animal sacrifice, much too involved.
Throwing a party takes an awful lot of work
and incense sets off the smoke alarm.

Trying on his old clothes
might work if you’d kept them.
The ring might still fit
if you dared.

Go to bed early.
Cry if you must.
Before it’s all over
sing just one song.
from among those you loved
you chose to love him.