Separating the Things

 

 

take something back, from this void stage of sound

round your eyes when I spoke and you finally heard

round your eyes I avoided, seeing the ground

up from you, ground up glasses, hourglasses of sugar

and salt we sprinkled like snow, in dreams with

promises that seemed so easy, but true

 

take nothing back, just let the ropes lie, there,

where I let them go, your hands in the air, still

holding on, almost as if the reins and your veins

were the same

 

horses, one obese, one starving, they remember both of

us, with their dark animal soft eyes, back when we

made noises of passion and froth into each other's

steaming manes, chariot races in open spaces and sun

 

drifting, afloat, and I've seen you drowning yourself,

filling your stomach and lungs full of salt water, I

know why, my love, but you can't stop, and gulls came for

crumbs and you stared at them, mumbling your monotony

and I don't know what happened, or why, but I'm in a boat, too,

my hair dried and salted into cords over my face, you

scream at the gulls sometimes, but they come back, they

have eaten from your hand, and liked it

 

sometimes you are bobbing face down in the waves and I

know you must be dead, but you roll over, so I start wearing

black just in case

 

I miss holding your hand when it wasn't a symbol, a

gesture, an apology, but a necessity, foreplay, an

unconscious reaching, finding and safety

 

I miss looking in your eyes and understanding the love

we found ourselves warming in, like a home fire, there,

they glazed over like those of the shipwrecked dead,

frozen in terrors you could not describe, shedding dry

salt, filling your hands with glass, snow, crumbs, sugar,

of this I would eat or you would throw all of it at me,

blind, my love, blind

 

your nightmares ruined your days as you fought them

each night in your head, killing them over and over again,

you wouldn't tell me how, and I didn't want to know

i couldn't stand it coming to bed one night and i tried to

calmly wake you from your drunken sleep, and from there your

fist crashed into my jaw, not waking, not waking,

in the morning you were running late for work, hungover,

running from me as I told you what you did

but shock was nothing new, it's where I lived with you

they told me to pack an emergency bag

offered a place to stay

 

my golden boy, my golden man

where have you gone?

why are your drowning now?

 

before we were married, life was a constant debate,

we protested in the snow against foreign policy in El Salvador,

we read our poetry together as we wrote it and with our friends,

our minds were on fire with questions and rage about nuclear arsenals,

and Nietsche became your god, which you didn't like me to say

your professors doted on you, the stack of love letters grew tall

 

I lit the copal and sage spiral sticks with a wooden

match on fire, so simple and quiet, the scent cleared the

air of alcohol fermented through your skins, your

things, books, photos, papers you wrote in eighth grade,

shirts you wore to work in the cotton mill, to do research,

to school, to be married, to go to the beach, to run and

flowers grew again over the bed with new sheets, and

candles flamed tall in stillness without you, and I slowly

began to breathe, but my heart was shell-shocked cold,

the cats curled up with me and we slept for weeks

 

wedding pictures, bright sunshine summer day frozen

drops of joy in a lilac bottle i won't open, hidden in a

drawer with old socks and nightmares that my love has

died, dead, a look I felt on my face when you kissed me

married, welcomed me into our future, the

sun shining through the trees around you and the love

we celebrated with friends and family shyly, a photo

snapped, I can't believe how much your face has changed,

and my own, as I watched years thereafter the poisoning

of all that light

 

when the door was shut between us for real, the ropes

were caught under it, you would come and point at them

and I would take my knife and cut them a little closer

to you, my love I cannot trust, the air is heavy around

you wherever you are, when I remember you I open the

windows wide and light incense and candles in honor of

what little light remains, your hands still fill to throw things

at me but now you don't because your ears are emptying

of their salt, and I have swept the floor of the debris

you have already thrown at me

 

 

 

 

August 14, ©1992

Amy Jackson

 

 

poetry

home