D. JAMES SMITH
You never flinch when we lie down, your eyes
step for step in the way figure skaters couple,
glide and dip. When I look too long into the dark I see
swells in the mind in a long fomenting ache,
leaning toward what it thinks is its moment of transcendence
poured back and pestled down
in the frail vessel of the body.
You want it
that way, the empty stairway on the ward
where you work and that you insist we climb,
where a gallery
of pigeons pace their awkward nests
in the opened skylight hanging over us,
coos and clattering rush
battering the shaft of light that pins us there, pulsing
monarchs, our wings unfurled.
You throw the future out
onto the bald
carpet of our room; again and
again the coins reveal: Revolution.
When I touch
you, the irises of your eyes begin
to float up like small planets, though you still come, hard,
slow river of stars, skin stretched tight
over the raft of your collarbones, your hips a reflexive cough.
lunching with a surgeon. He has small, hesitant teeth
and fine shirts, and you say he talks of the difficulties of opening bodies,
the lungs from the heart. Kidneys that are
like purses hard with jewels, livers slapped quivering
pans, almost the size of small babies.
Together you walk the lawns at work,
feed the half-tamed
crows and the many starlings
that fill the sky, black scratches on a bright mirror . . .
I can't stop
myself from watching.
I sell my back as day labor, drive out the long wound
laid down across the coastal range
to lose myself in the small clear bowl of a valley there,
the old orchards planted a century ago.
One night in November I lie in a hick-town hospital,
rearranged when a branch I'd straddled
whipped and bucked with the force of a bull.
slathered in my own saliva and doused
with enough morphine to swim off down the hall
walls, I study the bad landscapes there
dogwoods snowing over a riverbank, the liquid yellow grass
the Gothic ribs of rotting boats, then you
just outside the windowcoming for me, eyes on mine,
unbuttoned, that black hair of yours
streaming out behind you, unwoven, wild,
of ravens at your back.
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