On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
Tell me it was for the hunger
& nothing less. For hunger is to give
it cannot keep. That this amber light
whittled down by another war
between my arms —
You, pushing your body
into the river
only to be left
with yourself —
I’ll tell you how we’re wrong enough to be forgiven. How one night, after
mother, then taking a chainsaw to the kitchen table, my father went to kneel
in the bathroom until we heard his muffled cries through the walls.
And so I learned that a man, in climax, was the closest thing
Say surrender. Say alabaster. Switchblade.
Honeysuckle. Goldenrod. Say autumn.
in your eyes. Beauty despite
daylight. Say you’d kill for it. Unbreakable dawn
mounting in your throat.
My thrashing beneath you
like a sparrow stunned
Dusk: a blade of honey between our shadows, draining.
I wanted to disappear — so I opened the door to a stranger’s car. He was divorced. He was still
alive. He was sobbing into his hands (hands that tasted like rust). The pink breast cancer ribbon
on his keychain swayed in the ignition. Don’t we touch each other just to prove we are still
here? I was still here once. The moon, distant & flickering, trapped itself in beads of sweat on
my neck. I let the fog spill through the cracked window & cover my fangs. When I left, the
Buick kept sitting there, a dumb bull in pasture, its eyes searing my shadow onto the side of
suburban houses. At home, I threw myself on the bed like a torch & watched the flames gnaw
through my mother’s house until the sky appeared, bloodshot & massive. How I wanted to be
that sky — to hold every flying & falling at once.
In the shower, sweating under cold water, I scrubbed & scrubbed.
In the life before this one, you could tell
two people were in love
because when they drove the pickup
over the bridge, their wings
would grow back just in time.
Some days I am still inside the pickup.
Some days I keep waiting.
It’s not too late. Our heads haloed
with gnats & summer too early
to leave any marks.
Your hand under my shirt as static
intensifies on the radio.
Your other hand pointing
your daddy’s revolver
to the sky. Stars falling one
by one in the cross hairs.
This means I won’t be
afraid if we’re already
here. Already more
than skin can hold. That a body
beside a body
full of ticking. That your name
is only the sound of clocks
being set back another hour
finds our clothes
on your mother’s front porch, shed
like week-old lilies.