05.20.03 . 6:16 a.m.
354: loss

there are nights

i don't have to sing my self to sleep;

the sound of the evening

stretching & groaning, as it pulls

its skin over the hills of its flank,

soothes me, down

in to the slender crescent

curve of my pelvic bone.

there are nights

that all my memories of you

are so far behind

my thought, that the moss

begins to creep beneath

the shingles of them & rot

the underbelly of the wood.

so what i do, instead of bringing

your voice all the way up my throat,

just to feel the sting of it

in the retching of my uvula, is

roll my tongue up

to feel the saliva squish to a crest

just above the line of my teeth.

what i do is measure

the vibration of the squeaks

in my bed, calculating where, if

added together, they would fall

on the Richter scale.

what i do is try my sides,

peeling down sheets, sticking my leg out

from beneath the blanket & running

my hand between my hipbone

& the elastic of my underwear.

what i think about

is the new poem that i wrote today--

the one about the glow of a pepper

plant-- the one i left in the right hip

pocket of my jeans. i work out the last stanza

in my head, & dedicate it to memory,

so that, in the morning, i can write it in

against the sun.

i have learned to predict when the water purifier

will click off, when the pool pump will

sigh to a halt, as

the light falls

over the pitch of the roof.

i've taught my self to worry

about the clothes

in the dryer,

running through lists

in my head, saying,

did i remember to shut off

the gas on the stove,

did i remember to tell my mother

that i love her,

did i change the coffee filter.

as the clock moves past the minutes,

unfurling the new day, i start

to stumble clumsily towards

the idea of darkness; i still have not thought

of you,

or practiced my hands

as your hands,

as i played the strings

of my breasts,

the taut skin just around my lips,

the creases in my upper thighs.

i have not thumbed out

the sticky layers of my vagina,

recalling aloud the ache i felt for

the ladder of your ribs,

& the muscles that run along

either side of your spine.

the fact of the matter is,

even though i can always tell you

precisely how many times the air

conditioner has kicked

on, only to sputter back out again, while

it weighs the heave of the energy crisis

against the benefits of feeling cool air

move over one's skin,

as i lie in bed,

watching the headlights flood through

my window,

you rarely even occur to me.

& when you do, it is neither

sweetly, nor bitterly, but instead

settles in to some lurid space

between the two,

pulling its hair away from its neck,

& staring up through the trees.


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