Oil on Canvas
by Amanda Baker
I’ve become too narrow.
Autumn still aches in my rib cage. Nowhere near dying,
just the illusion of it as peonies bloom in my palm.
Pink, always pink like the first time you saw me,
there is no room here for breathing.
I’ve dissected you.
A thousand tiny white bones. By morning, I’d renamed them all
and assembled them at the back of my throat
so I wouldn’t forget how you sound,
the glossy humming of bees.
I’ve folded you open.
A museum of intricate disasters. All wound and shame
that you cleansed me of. A christening of hands,
and forgiveness that I can believe,
in this heat I am something holy.
I’ve taken your eyes.
Brilliant satellites. Burning without resistance,
orbiting above me, so I can dream
in a place where the shadows can’t reach,
the darkness no longer hypothesis.
I’ve rendered you down.
Forgotten what I know about love. An articulation
that has become foreign. I open my mouth to speak,
a million drumming wings swarm,
escaping from the catch in my throat.
I dreamt of you last night;
The summer you were keen on memorizing Fern Hill
repeating it over and over
your tongue covered in moths
a rhythm madder than our hearts.
We were lightning; drawn from the bellies of gods
consoled in the soft birth of an instant
between whisper and whalesong
struck by the proportion of things
and the fiction we tethered ourselves to.
my hands are abandoned. if i’d wanted closure i would have forced my fingers into syllables. something capable. something less fanciful of skin. a touch would break me.
there are no delicacies in black and white.
In this weather I believe I am coherent. You tell me about your city and your history. The time you spent at the Romanian border and the man in Turkey. How can you trust me with such things? In the space between breaths I am homesick. No. It can’t be internal. I’ve wrung my hands free of their peels and there is no familiarity in them. Still I reach for your articulations as if I can borrow a single memory from you that doesn’t feel like an invasion. It is always summer when we talk. And I keep muttering about wheat fields smelling like childhood and common ground where my words fall fertile when all I really want is to get drunk and draw maps on your abdomen.
Yesterday gravity was enough.
i haven’t written in months
and i need to wage a war
against the cruelty of
because somehow i can breath
in the freedom of a run on sentence
i will not write of tears
memory or half empty beds at
two thirty a.m.
because realization feels
too much like an epilogue
and i haven’t the language
it should have been smaller
the moment were weakness became
another word for fucking just
for promise of heat
and that truth will
leave a mark
i am jealous
of writers who’s words
never betray them
mine have gutted me
because absence is persistent
and i struggle to find a single
harsh word to cut you