A child doesn’t turn out the way the parent hopes,
so what’s there to love? I love you,
bumblebee. I say it to my dog. A spider hangs
in an unlit room with nothing to hold onto.
The dog stretches, the snow waits. What’s inside
him yearns to be outside, and what’s outside
wants to come in——constant and warring this holding
of the line, a body for touching, to be touched, warmth
against warmth. What separates us is suicide.
You believe it so readily. The process of transformation
consisting almost entirely of decay. When you howl
in an empty room you have to remember you’re howling
in every room, discovering again that all the rooms
are the same room, so go ahead, waste what can’t be kept.
One tenth of nothing is not nothing, but relentless
logic: a well-intentioned parent with a knife cannot
learn to love, neither can the gash in the child,
nor child herself. I brush the hair out of my dog’s
eyes and I brush it back in again. To which world
am I tethered: the one I see or the one I don’t?
In this town, the sea is a wardrobe.
I walk to the lighthouse
to enjoy a croissant; I sit at the edge, gaze
back at town. Already a woman who isn’t me
is savoring her lunch on my balcony:
she sips from my cup, turns the pages of my book.
Does she know her dead brother, what he ate before he died?
She looks like me so exactly, I might be a notion.
Now I’m an old and future friend
of myself. I love me as a brother,
will kill me as a traitor. Die hard,
die here. It’s not a town, it is
a cemetery. There is no one who isn’t
unspent, not up ahead somewhere
like a shadow that precedes you, checking
all the corners.
My brother distrusted his own life;
I still won’t eat any meat I cook
medium-rare. I’m no fool, animals
must be leashed or held. It happens
all the time, although it never happens.
He stole garnishes off my plate,
waiting for me to notice.
Pointed scissors, blunt scissors,
thinning scissors, left
ceremonial scissors, bird
scissors, herb scissors,
surgical scissors, scissor
sister, scissors with the ears of a dog.
I dream of a wooden sailboat
passed down through generations.
One day in the town port I pass
the actual boat——brightwork, mast, and hull.
I walk down the dock to get closer and
inside smiling is a woman sunning herself,
hand extended for me to take.
Before we slid my brother into the crematory chamber,
I clasped his hands, each of us at the ends of each other’s tethers.
Even the grapefruits went in.
This morning I woke up again before my alarm.
Accept the bad dreams and the good, I say.
When I turned over and turned back the covers
I found my mouthguard lying there. I ran
my tongue over my teeth, and alarmed, put it back on.
Outside, the sea crashed below my balcony,
a small Maritime Gendarmerie boat
searching for something near the lighthouse.