The basement was always locked,
locked tight as a nut in a bolt.
From here the magic grew,
a guess gone wild,
a brothel of abandoned hours.
Having nothing to say,
we pressed our ears to the walls
until a story, a ghost
dropped seeds for inquisitive eyes.
Sweating like glasses dripping in heat,
we parted the cobwebs,
their living room drapes —
knew by instinct tied to time,
this place was a sunken ship
where chandeliers once burned
their tenuous suns.
A million crevices and caves,
eros of a question’s lid,
underwear drawer of a house,
forbidden but calling our hands.
Bridges we found to the sea â€“-
piers of an ancient storm.
A dusty chair missing a leg,
someone’s palsied, pilfered dream,
its cushion a tongue
that spoke with silence and tilt.
Too young to embrace satin dark,
accept an unanswering world
of strapless luggage,
boxes wet from a flood
like faces in an old folk’s home,
a dirty handkerchief that knows —
we listened for marching mice,
making the best of jetting
across their little roads.
Here the beams were odysseys â€“-
rod and staff reduced to twig.
We left the door of fear ajar
so tiny streaks of light could talk.
On the other side of the slab
colors were even and clean â€“-
drafts of red spaghetti sauce
promised us no poverty.
It happens in the middle of the night
when I am dreaming in pastels,
I’ll sit up in bed and shiver in the dark,
sweat trickling down my forehead
in the same sickening way it drips
from a faucet with faulty seal.
I’m nauseous, weak; I stand and pace
in my plaid boxer briefs to the bathroom
where the mirror reflects an image
I paid $5 to see at the last carnival.
My taut skin making my veins
look varicose in the glow of the vanity.
I run to the kitchen screaming:
there are scars underneath my skin
awaiting a knife to uncover them.
“I want to go!” was all you said,
as if you were slamming a book.
So I laid out your hat,
a tube of pink lipstick and blush
replacing the color
drained from my cheeks.
Death struck me then
as pottery with handles loose.
To you it snapped like fingernails —
a casualty of brushing up
against the hardness of a life.
“You don’t need eyes to see a forest.
The picture stays in your lungs.”
I packed a red checked tablecloth
pretending the dice weren’t close.
At the edge of a grave,
even the desert looks green.
Country roads spit gravel back
like bacon cooking in a pan.
You needed the custard of clouds
while I busied my triggers
shooting at hail.
The end was soft alyssum grains
finding the gust of a faithful breeze.
Sweat on your brow
could have been streams,
could have been rain licking the moss.
A stone divided by will
is still a stone in reckoning.
Innocence was telling me
to drive around the avalanche.
*First Published in Megaera