blackbirdonline journalSpring 2011  Vol. 10  No. 1
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from Ampersand Revisited

            I’d like to walk again in her weather, in the dark through the fog, its gray damage
laid down all over town.

            When she couldn’t bring herself to get up from the couch or the bed, Belinda would say
it was like being

            the most stylish drowned person in the whole universe. It was almost the only likeness
she allowed herself, besides married women. I asked her.

            Me? I’m the old word. What do you call it. A sapphist.

            I think she liked to take them back from that kind of touch. To smudge the clear
blueprints of oil from their breasts.

            Her words were so wet the women took a long time to notice how few of them
there were. For a year in college

            I built myself into her silence. It was so much effort to even appear

            to be interested in what anyone else was saying that I thought everyone could hear
the splice after speaking,

            when the voltage died and the negatives unspooled endlessly on the black floor
below my brain.

            Now, in this double darkness, I don’t hate being in the poem

            or my body. I can use my aesthetic expense account to underwrite the hidden z
in kismet and aphasia.

            Under each footfall, there’s a penny on which someone has scratched: i hert,
misspelling it so I won’t get it wrong.

            I can take everything away, become only a breath with a lisp of salt, and no one—
not the speaker, not his stand-in—

            can bring me back.  end

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