I’ve been meaning to write you. We both know that a lot of things need to be said. I am having a hard time wading through them, these conversations in my head. The one where we argue until past midnight until one of us breaks down and says, I’m sorry, I’ll do what you want, I just don’t want to lose you. The one where apologies are not needed, with words giving way to kisses, making love in the dark. The one where we hurl our affections at each other, not because of love but because we need a weapon. The one where we say things we don’t mean but can’t take back. The one where we end up together, because it was meant to happen. The one where everything ends, because it needed to happen.
A Married Man
The married man dreamt last night
of a house that someone’d left him:
the sort of house you have in dreams,
a thousand rooms, one corridor. He wandered
round alone, he told me, smiled
his quiet, inward smile. And found
a secret garden, high walled, locked, odd
velvet green. There, a window looked
towards the ocean. He flexed his pale hands,
I had, he said, the key. His wife touched
their girl asleep, a lush and heavy animal,
and watched him, knowing, satisfied.
And it isn’t easy, you know, to not think. To not think of you. And of course, the proverbial what-might-have-been. This is the year we were supposed to get married, or have you forgotten. But of course you did. Of course you did.
Poem for a Man with No Sense of Smell
This is simply to inform you:
that the thickest line in the kink of my hand
smells like the feel of an old school desk,
the deep carved names worn sleek with sweat;
that beneath the spray of my expensive scent
my armpits sound a bass note strong
as the boom of a palm on a kettle drum;
that the wet flush of my fear is sharp
as the taste of an iron pipe, midwinter,
on a child’s hot tongue; and that sometimes,
in a breeze, the delicate hairs on the nape
of my neck, just where you might bend
your head, might hesitate and brush your lips,
hold a scent frail and precise as a fleet
of tiny origami ships, just setting out to sea.
I feel a mixture of sadness and happiness, for reasons I cannot quite explain. There is that heavy feeling I can’t name, sitting quietly inside my chest. I have said to myself, the other night, how I could’ve been so happy except that a certain sense of wistfulness overcomes everything. And then before I could identify what is that something amiss, it has already passed me by. I am left without the ability to speak, so. Instead, here, a poem in my hands.
I said perhaps Patagonia, and pictured
a peninsula, wide enough
for a couple of ladderback chairs
to wobble on at high tide. I thought
of us in breathless cold, facing
a horizon round as a coin, looped
in a cat’s cradle strung by gulls
from sea to sun. I planned to wait
till the waves had bored themselves
to sleep, till the last clinging barnacles,
growing worried in the hush, had
paddled off in tiny coracles, till
those restless birds, your actor’s hands,
had dropped slack into your lap,
until you’d turned, at last, to me.
When I spoke of Patagonia, I meant
skies all empty aching blue. I meant
years. I meant all of them with you.
Glenn Gould is playing Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major (‘Alla Turca’). It’s almost 3AM. I have a lot of stuff to write but find myself walking around in my room, wishing for a cigarette, thinking about a lot of things I shouldn’t.
I imagined that you’d miss me, thought
you’d pace your hardwood floor in odd
worn socks, watch the clock sit stuck,
get late to work, type my name caps lock
press and hold shift/break, miss buses, meals
or sit with fork half-way, lost, for minutes,
hours, sleep badly, late, dream chases, shake
send fingers out to pad the pillow, find
my hollow, start awake, roll over, hug a gap,
an ache, take a walk, damp dawn, of course,
wrapped in a mac with the collar up, glimpse
a slice of face, tap a stranger’s back, draw a blank;
as I have. Each time, I run to press your face
to mine, mine, shining with imagined rain.