November slipped in when the heat wore through distance and local news
Cold, I lay with him in the church graveyard We thought we were invisible as graves.
Ginger’s compliment, mint’s imperial roots, and disenfranchised lavender, borage, sage
forcing the border between lovers disengaged
I still wear the t-shirt I stole from his laundry basket.
We filched each other’s rhythms, smoked each other’s haze,
feigned ambivalence, danced towards reckless tribute to
the painted optimism of our late-eighties youth.
Wars past present fathers and brutality of carelessness
I put wholly aside.
I managed to wrench myself asunder
Emily, how far away are you?
Emily, he asked,
how far away are you
from your feet?
Does a tree, opposing its roots, grow distant?
Where lies the future of the handless man? Whose hands?
And is a woman ravaged, unrequited,
without her breasts? Ovaries?
Shadows and wax,
cysts and skin and blood and kin and disembodied memories:
they make us up.
The lines – chapters – stanzas – stories – feet
the meat of our stories. What we leave in draws strength from
what we leave out.
How far away.
We hadn’t woken up together because we hadn’t
but as to his question,
I had never been so far away.
Uh, about five feet plus a couple of inches, depending on where at the ankle you cut off and stop measur. . . NO, he laughed, and his laugh shocked, like truth shocks,
like I’d never been shocked before by adamance and courage, large and intractable.
No, Emily, you are your feet.
I am then,
craftbrownpapersugarpackets I sift into my coffee.
I am the mirror that reflects me.
I am the mirror that reflects you.
I am my feet,
damaged upon birth.
So am I
My anger and my liver,
which I could eat.
Also, all the words
left unsaid. They occupy a small part of me too.
I am my kids
and the milk they suckled, tapping my bones brittle and dry.
I am the lathe with which they cross-sectioned my parts.
And I am the marrow and the promise they poured in.
They steal from my laundry basket, pull down my clothes line, scatter
the garden sparrows and bleach the blackbirds in the chimney.
I am the blackbirds and the bleach.
I am my cysts removed and skin hashed out and blood soaked
little jars lined up on the medicine s[h]elf.
I am my father and my dead
mother, springing from the wilted parts that killed her.
I am light recognizing
not far away.