PILLOW - WEPT
05.20.03 . 6:16 a.m.
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
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
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.