— White Oleander, Janet Finch
the only way
to explain last night
is that we were choking
on words as we tried
to speak them,
or maybe that
somewhere in our bodies
they took the wrong turning
in the blood and went down
to our toes,
perhaps it was
that I spoke a language
you couldn’t understand
and vice versa,
because when you spoke,
all I heard was, “it’s you,
it’s you, it’s you,”
but you weren’t saying that
at all, so maybe
what really happened
is that your love
was a different shape
I am stealing winter.
There is talk of snow
ice on roads;
black ice, hidden
until after we have
crashed. They look
to the grey skies
and count clouds.
Perhaps they can
divine from the sky
whether it will snow
again. But I am taking
the cold in my heart,
and I won’t see snow
It is three in the afternoon, which means
I am thinking about you
thinking about me.
Because there are knots all over my back
and I think that maybe each one is a time
I woke up and you hadn’t thought of me
I would ask but there are more important things,
like tea on the stove, like walking the dog, buying gas,
thinking of the ‘bigger things’ which are really just
trivialities with egos.
And while I make dinner, you ask how I am,
but I’m too busy tying knots in my tongue
It is snowing outside and I am thinking
how nice it would be if my insides
were as white as the world.
You could walk along my bones
and leave footsteps. Like bread crumbs.
Like morsels of love that I could follow
when I am scared.
Instead if you walk inside of me,
you’ll tread blood into the carpets,
and that’s a mark we’ll never get out.
I don’t want you to be mad at me
for staining everything we’ve built
with the broken parts of me.
Last night you whispered,
you know you can tell me anything.
I wonder if that means I can tell you
about how I would touch your mouth
with my hands until you swallowed them,
just so I could be touching you
all the time.
I am finding things deep in my pockets,
things that remind me of you: string
that I tied around my ring finger to remember
that crying when stumbling home was a bad thing,
a bad thing. A seashell from the beach of Avalon,
bone white, bone cold, the colour of me, you said.
I am emptying out the corners of my life
and finding sand, still, and it itches and it
burns. It finds its way into the creases
and cracks, and no matter how many times
I take long baths and try not to think,
you’re still somewhere hidden.
But I have spoken to the elderly lady
down the street. She runs a laundromat
and she fell in love with a boy like you,
once. Forty years ago, he had blonde hair
and sea blue eyes and he was made of ice.
He melted into her and deep within him
I will run you through the washing
over and over. I will sleeplessly pour powder
over my body, and I will not rest
until I remember what it feels like
to be clean.
At three am I ask you if you want tea.
You tell me you only ever wanted to feel awake,
but now you only ever feel like you are half asleep.
It is cold in your kitchen,
and there are oceans between us.
In them there are crevices that dive deeper
than we are willing to go.
(The dark has always frightened us.)
If I could boil the seas for you, I would,
but when I try to catch the waves, it only ever
runs over the edges of my palms, and I end up
Instead I build a raft out of gentle thoughts
and well wishes. Sleep on it, my love. It doesn’t matter
if you dream: the moon is our nightlight, and I will
touch your lips with mine when you stir.
Poetry is stuck in my throat.