CLOSER

Everything demands to be scratched.
It is probably the cold. My nails have grown
sharp enough to claw through clavicles –
maybe the space between his ribs is
weak enough for me to coax his lungs
out, run four lane highways from breast to hip.
Watch me drain the color from his chest; watch me
rob his organs, one ice-filled motel bathtub at a time.
They can’t mean that much to you, baby, please.
I want the weight of almost-sleep. I want tenderness.
And? I want it to hurt. I want it all
beneath the kitchenette table with the too-skinny
cats slinking through chair legs, or buried under
the eggplant leaves. Say it. We don’t have to talk
about it; everything hangs in the air anyway, knives
suspended above a sink. We being you.
What does it matter? Every touch is loud enough,
you can’t keep carving your name into men
like trees. But he moves in wingspans,
likes the feel of canvas covered books, likes to
read himself into the biographies of scientists,
molts the jackets. This is how he bookmarks his grief.
The space between paragraphs seems
as good a spot as any. If he looks hard enough at
the joints in his fingers, he might find another.
And his hands? They want to be streetlights,
guiding someone’s way home, or at least
a little light. (I want them to be on.)
And even Sam Cooke’s sweetness can’t slow them
down into loving anyone proper, without restraint.
Listen, I had a dream about him. He folded his lips
between his teeth, tightened his eyes. When I laid
my palm to his shoulder, he told me he was once
the moon. Everyone wants to belong to the universe.
Who is your responsibility for? Who shoulders
your stars? I hide my mercy in small places.
I drain the ice and blood into the thinning street.
It was winter, and the moon was bright.

[Fall, 2014]

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