Change, Poetry

Dead Ringer

The ting a single note was key
against coin, a passing
pocket, the handyman pausing to light
the corridor after a week
of burnt filament
and shadow. It was not
the dog turning
a corner. Of course
I look up anyway
because it is easier to recall
than to forget
her and easier still to forget
that recollection
is all I have left.
The last time tag tinged collar
was the last time.
I will get used to this
too soon. I will fail to catch
the first moment
that note chimes
and I don’t look up
anymore.
 

Growing Up

Twin Sighting

Then she realizes it is not man. It never has been man. The one whose gaze she has been seeking all this time, alert to it feeling its way up her spine, it is not one or another. It is only a gaze, an entity all its own taking on some kind of psychic presence in her orbit. It moves from eye to eye, brain to brain, sketching her into background or foreground depending on preference, on mood, on the light slanting across the edge of day.
 
The outsideness of it she never questions. She simply submits to it, as if only that exists: submission to the forever slipping away line of sight. Her form, laugh, posture, texture all move about like a bit player, an extra only. Just a hash-mark on the canvas, one of the legion, a soldier of oil drawn into nameless formation alongside interchangeable others down a mountainside waiting for the slaughter. She is one. She is all of them.
 
It is never a man at all, is it? The origin of the gaze, it never really is him placing her, taking her measure. No, it is not living tissue with intention, not even an actual eye in an actual skull.
 
Instead, it is the piece of her she left behind. The missing Y, the twin who was next in the queue and swam out against its will in the next tide, out into the sea, out to be lost to Marianas trench. Later, eons later, geyser force, thrust (again, unwillingly!) a briny and brimstone singed speck of what she lost back to the surface. Now this He (or, rather, her) watches, watches.
 
Not to take her measure, no. Not to judge or even manipulate. These are the assumptions of the simple mind. He (or is it She?) only comes to covet. For corporal life? Yes, for the depth of the bend, the unchained laugh, even – yes, even this – the pain. Deep in the bones, the age and accumulating disease, the sorrow – yes. He would take all of it. Give everything. His universal access, the boundless roaming, for one minute in her skin.
 
This twin, a houri, thunders in astride some winged steed made of nothing but smoke and the dried rinds of tangerines left on the riverbank. She loved him before she knew love but was gone before he ever knew her at all. Now she begins to wonder. Now, the dawning awareness.
 
The he is her He, and he is only just everything she traded for life. Is she wrong? Is it possible he is not the one who came after her? They lose their beginnings and endings, out there in the nothing of not-life. Maybe he was shed before? Did he, in fact, precede her by a fortnight, out into the gnashing maw of the world? Did he roll out the crimson carpet? Did he bury the landmines in his wake, just for her, just for spite?
 
Jealous thing, this unborn brother. No wonder he stares with such assessing frost. He hovers like an odor yet he refuses to resolve into view. Would that be his undoing? To let her see him? She dares to believe he can be undone, that she has some agency in the situation, but perhaps she is fooling herself (as is He). Surely, surely, no one would instill such power in a creature as weak and foolish as she. That would be a muck-up on a cosmic scale. She has no managerial skills, no executive privilege, no armaments (that she knows of).
 
He fears something. This much is slowly becoming clear. She can’t imagine what. How could it be? His everything, the whole of the skies, the diamond planet, all of Davy Jones’ locker and the soft thighs of the unclaimed farmer spinning wool in the wooden room by a window streaked with oil and light, all of this at his fingertips, and he stands there watching her? Is this the best he can do?
 
So finally, she turns on Him (who is her and who is surely there, even if only seeing but not seen) and speaks:
 
In this world you choose to crave this erratic pulse, this weak will, this drifting imagination and coarse flesh? You have nothing to constrain your wanderings – not body and its hungers, not child and the chains of toil, not the need and the clutching, relentless thirst of the ones to whom you belong. You are neither bound by gravity not checked by time. Yet still, ghost, gaze, you linger here in the doorway of my unremarkable boudoir?
 
And then he speaks in her voice from her own throat:
 
What shall we trade? One crumb each from the other plate?
 
They both consider.
 
The night is long.
 

Uncategorized

Foxhole

Down below the skin of things,
someone has prepared the soil,
spread the loam, drawn up hair
and root
for a bed. The mouth
of this subterranean bunker
lays its lips against sky, sipping
thin wisps, down
of feather, down
of cloud. Spooning
in that nest of damp debris:
a him
and a her.
 
She recalls the man who gave her a home
where she could die
in peace. Perhaps it never happened.
It is time to call back
the ghost from its powder
blue chair and beg,
beg
the long-dead grandmother
to shake off her slumber
and divulge the secret.
How to win such a man?
 
She would take a bully, a drunk,
a scoundrel,
a dunce,
as long as he gives her
that powder blue chair
and three square feet
of something like her own
place
to put it.
 
Ghosts take their secrets
seriously, it seems.
Grandmothers take theirs
to the grave.
 
Autumn arrives
out there. The blacksmith turns
the amber strip
around a stem, bashing the glare
with a hammer. Sparks
do not fly. Only breath, only smoke
from the fire.
He makes the unforgiving iron
bend to petal, to tissue.
A rose
plunged into the ice bath
hisses.
 
We become what we never thought we would be.
Finally,
we stop resisting.
Finally,
something gives.
 
Beauty
like birth
hurts.
 
The faraway mouth
of this cave
is nearer than it appears.
That pinprick of light
shivers
even wider while we squeeze
our eyes against it.
One pebble falls
then another.
 
Somewhere out there the future
clangs
like iron, like fire
in its relentless scuffle
with the past.
For the moment, we pretend
we cannot feel sand
skittering down our shoulders.
We feign sleep
for now,
for as long as our restless arms
allow.