The strings of your violin are attached to my heartstrings. That is how I would begin a poem about you. I am too proud to say what I really want to say but not proud enough to give up on it. Running my finger along my collarbone, I try to believe that I have some beautiful angles. The geometry of people is complicated. The geometry of my words is also difficult. I write obtuse, heavy sentences sometimes, like these, and I still fall in love with them. Am I in love with you?
It is a Vermont winter and afternoon. We are in your family’s guest cottage and for a time there was a fire but not anymore. It smells like smoke and pickles, which we ate for lunch. We are wearing socks. I stand, shaking off our blankets, to pull the chain on the light, which is flickering. It snaps and shudders through me, cold and green. I fall back on my pillow. Everything crackles but I am still alive. We are still alive. I pull the sheets tight around me and they refuse to mold again to the shape of my body, which is cold and on fire.
When death comes I think it will taste like rain evap- orating, late August, steamy and sweet and always leav- ing you thirsty. It will be like shedding your clothes and watching yourself dry up, a puddle hissing in the heat that only you can see. Perhaps you will cry out, but it will not be you anymore because you have drained into molecules and are painting the sky August gray.
Someone Else’s Dream
There are storks in the sky and the light is split and I watch from the window as they perch on a chain link fence. They are the color of the rice she used to cook, which is different from the rice anyone else ever cooked— so white it was almost clear. There is still gunfire, not here, though I can hear it, and also the sound of glass breaking and a distant piano. But mostly I am watching the storks and from their mouths spill newspaper head- lines that disintegrate into the kaleidoscope light and the crisscross shadows of the chainlink fence. The headlines say how many people died today and then they are gone. Feathers are falling also and suddenly I am standing on top of the fence, catching them in my open palms.
I draw a bath tonight and watch it drain. I dip my fingers in its converging rivers and think about you. I make myself tea. That’s all.
The list of things that have saved me begins with the fake candles in all the windows of a white house near the strip mall section of Exeter that is not really Exeter any- more. Nights, they cast small halos of light that are not too different from shadows, dripping fake fire through the windows which also reflect the red of the Walgreens sign. In the gas station parking lot, across the street, someone is stubbing out their cigarette and someone else is shouting into their phone. My mother would say that this is all too bad, this part of town. But this is what prayer is like, for me—standing on a noisy street outside a white house that is quiet, looking in.