Look, now, this is not my old trick again.
We keep sleeping in our chains. We can’t mute
our charred appetites. We ignore the worst.
I’ve thought about what cannot be undone:
a young, three legged cow, shunted, shut
in a pen. (The only job I ever lost.)
Her mooing was injuring me. I made time
pass by billowing back to her. I cut
her ear tags, catheter, whatever wasn’t
flesh. To touch your legs is to feel her shame.
Something more than shame: she was a beacon.
If only I could entirely forget—
for years the only voice was, Where’s your thirst?
Swallow. Forgive yourself. The flames are broken.
But this light was like nails that split the feet.
Now I live in this light, which is the stillest
in bed. Already a worm sweeps our home.
In the rooms it eats the shadows and sets
its cold lips on my arms. It has mostly
black scales that splinter like shingles on a tomb.
I want to find a tomb to dig in: what can
hold out, what seeds shoot through a skull, what sweet
water cannot break. I just want to trust
the body, trust that it never shuts out sun.
I mean to be whole. I am not quiet.
How do I know if you’re sleeping? I outlast
rejections. How old are we? Your hands are warm:
give me them. It isn’t easy to want. To get
somewhere, I take everything off, spiders.
Once you said, “I’m not giving up.” To dream
I move above you and then the dream: carnations,
the forks shining on the table, velvet—
it all comes true, the black cord, the taste
of tears in my mouth, the hard cessation.
What you would have given up didn’t amount
to much: pictures of a drowned dog, red glass.
But I wanted to show you how a stream
slips down, bursts the minerals of granite
in blood, turns veins slowly into caves, mist
and dead bats. That is, I would have become
I see how much like me you have become:
a woman who makes a speechless market
out of half-lit hanging blue locusts.
You wait for me to step up and buy them
and not discuss prices, as if I coveted
burned wings about to open. Who would contest,
you think, that you sell sweet and precious forms?
We have a deep thirst to bargain, and yet
I do it at my expense: it is lust
that I barter for, my head full of flotsam,
In sex it’s true there is mostly exhaustion.
My body’s right side hotter than the left,
guilt, double vision. A travel plan is best:
simple, no clouds of annunciation,
you desolate, me as I am, a wet
lace sheet, old lamp, nothing to fight against.
But I can’t understand anything, our home,
this persisting hollowness, a white slate,
why you are a little cold and so fast
as if you wanted to find rest, be