Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2022  Vol. 21  No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Open Spaces

Now he is driving West Texas,
the dusty vastness not that different
from the oceans he used to watch

on the deck of a ship. For years,
that was his view and mine
in my imagining. The water

was like what I knew of him,
by which I mean a reflecting surface,
too dark to dive into. Outside

of Marfa, he sleeps in a room
covered with dead moths,
their gray shadows everywhere

he touches, their wings
powdering his hands with failure
to take flight. He brings them

home in his suitcase, dead insects
in the creases of his clothes,
the way he used to bring me

a tiny jar of paprika, a tin of matcha,
a vial of crushed roses, souvenirs
to remember where he’d been.

Our open spaces are large enough
to hold all kinds of absence.
We trade one distance for another.

The wind keeps pushing across
whatever place he occupies—it leaves
small furrows on the land and sea.  

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