29 March 2009

Two heartbreak poems.


The doctor scooped the mole
right out of my arm, leaving skin
cantaloupe-pink after the pass
of the melon baller. The scab started
concave, blood brown and translucent
in spots: over time as if ascending
via dumbwaiter it rose, cracked,
paled. Size, shape, hues of a black-
eyed pea, it could come off any day now.

John wears a suit to work now, his
memorized body long-limbed as Jimmy Stewart’s
in The Philadelphia Story. He makes
four times what I do. He’s moving
out of his parents’ apartment (such
dark woodwork I was sure it was
haunted). He’s still with Heather, who
slept across the hall with John’s
roommate years ago, who I mutter
is merely the closest substitute
for me, but with whom—and I know
because I know him—he must be deeply
in love. He’s even got two little Siamese
cats to obliterate Julie, once his only kitty-
kitty. When Cecily said she’d seen him I
had to ask. Couldn’t just leave it alone.

[January 2005]


Mmm, the 40-cent saffron solace
of Jiffy corn muffins: deconvecting them
I jerk up too soon, and a second sears
where thumb joins wrist, an embarrassed
lymph-ellipse. Never burned myself on the oven
before. I staunch the heat with olive oil
and tomato, the latter like a cool wet slap
on my stung skin. Now it’s reconstructed,
spiderwebbed, the dull rose of my lips,
elegant in its way, how it puckers to a point
at each end, like a smooth closed eye of grain.
I don’t mind scars, mostly: the stem-curve
on my foot, inked over with thorns,
the ashen footpath memories of cat
scratches, the drop beneath his right eye
my fingertip still recalls.

Except, of course, that stabbed ridge
of fear, the strip-mined trust, the unrest
he left behind. The way I can’t believe
love will ever again fold me, quiet, like egg whites
into batter, light as foam, firm as a hand
on my tear-burned cheek. The slit throat
of remembering, if not security,
the illusion of it, a cage of arms and strength
high above the rushing waters.
Like an orange-starved sailor I feel them
still gape at his name. What’s past is
underneath, undone. I can’t go back.

[April 27, 2007]

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