Friday, May 15, 2015

Vows (Meghan)


I thought I knew what I wanted to say about the day
I say “I do” to you, and I sat there smugly on a bar stool
while patrons chattered around us and you asked what
our vows should be: declaration, proclamation, or promise?
I said pledge and planned to pledge my life to yours,
to commit to being your ballast and beam in exchange for the same.
I said it had to be clear that this was for year after year after year,
that I would be here, and you could rest in knowing that
my love is all-weather and all-terrain, and again I hoped
to hear you say something like the same.

But you said, “I think there should always be a degree of uncertainty.”
That’s right--you said I should never feel safe and never rest because
on any given day, I might come home and find you gone, and there will
be no explanation, and if there is, it needn’t be good, because this is a
game of pleaser and pleased, and when the pleaser falters, all bets
are off, which is why we shouldn’t place bets in the first place.
Never gamble what you feel you can’t afford to lose.
You said you love me, for now--that’s obvious--but life is long,
and someday we may look back and see this as nothing more
than a placeholder.  I saw you looking at my arms like taut strings,
wound to receive you but snappable with ease for a strong man.

Ok, you didn’t say much of that really.  You said,
“I think there should always be a degree of uncertainty,”
and my eyes went blurry until you muttered, “Listen,”
and spoke fresh words to replace the ones I’d dreamed into
existence in the panic of a promise assumed, undone.

You really spoke of couples who are complacent,
passing ships in swollen bodies who forget even the nicety
of a kiss hello.  You said you never wanted to stop being better
for me.  Better. for. me. Words I could hear but barely believe.
And to pledge your life to me would mean that the promise,
not the living marriage, meant the most, and a promise
without action is just a faded dream of syllables
uttered under a tree when everything was hopeful.
You said you never want to be the man who sits on a bar stool,
like this one, carousing with his friends over the stupid things
wives do, the stupid things I might do, like a superior sultan
enduring the marathon of marriage to a bawling ball and chain.

Well then, I thought to ask, what do you want to be?

“I want to be that scrawny old man with white hair and wrinkled face,
brushing the white hair away from your wrinkled face,
having shared three lives: yours, mine, and ours,
because we never forgot to listen and respond.”

“I think there should always be a degree of uncertainty.”
I think you should say it differently, but together we will find
the combination.  We’ll refine this condemnation of promises
and pledges into words which only will approximate
this act of love, this active love, we mean to water and feed.

I saw you looking at my arms like velvet cloth,
supremely soft but sewn with iron thread.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Outline (Meghan)


We’d been kissing in the churchyard, on the bridge,
but our shadows on the park grass just after twilight--
yours a little taller but broader, mine morphing with the movement of my hair,
arms falling in natural extension to resolve in the hand of the other—
gave minds time to photograph the moment so I could write it later
to remind you how you looked to me in silhouette,
the painting of your solid hand immaterial on the lawn, projected
 by lamplight (or tell me, was there a moon?).
I was afraid of you, of course; we looked too well-matched in grass
to falter, but your touch was of a handsome stranger
etching the night into memory in case all failures were former—
in case night stretched into night stretched into night.
I moved away to see the shapes change,
You pulled me close to see them meld.
I don’t remember shadows after that—
Just you whispering in me (or in my ear—do you remember?)
the soft  laughter of nearby terrace diners, perhaps gathering to the spectacle
of alchemy that will be love.

Mouth (Meghan)


If tongues were braver than brains,
mine would telegraph the words that boil in the stem
with clicking code on the backs of my teeth,
and you would smile because the sounds
are souls made meat for deglutition.
I’d say the things that let you know I know you,
(that I swallowed you one night while you slept,
and like Jonah, you’ve been living here inside
me, both quiet and content).
But something stops at synapse.
I languish, try to smile.
Let eyebrows and irises perfume the air
with all that’s steaming, this whistling tea kettle
between these ears where you are tucking my hair.
So know that if I could, I’d telescope
my way into your throat, my dragging feet
a delicacy, something savory to say
 I’ve lived in you, too,
since I met you, all along.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

At Home (Meghan)

At Home

She’ll be there, still curled in the green chair,
braless and blonde, her messy hair falling around her face,
her eyes affixed, amused, to words on her lap.
She might have read them faster, but she likes
to let them settle in her brain, to wonder what might be true
if these new words are also true.  The world is burning.
And when she smiles you want to know if her heart pitched
when she heard the garage door, if she pictured your face
at the top of the stairs and wanted your warm hands
anywhere, just anywhere near her,
but you already know because you usually do.
She says she hates you reading her mind, but you know
that’s a lie because she smiles when she says it:
The world is burning and she loves knowing she’s known.
Her feet are cold. Arms around her, you’ve felt your own heat
sink to her last toe and thrilled to do it again and again.
She’ll be there and she’ll smile at you and that old green chair
won’t look so ugly anymore, even as you wonder how long
it takes to read seven stories if you haven’t got all day.
She calls on God in gasps sometimes.  You laugh,
but by God, isn’t this something?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Stargazer (Davina)

Look at the stars and
do not think of your own insignificance.
They are closer than you think:
let them sparkle between your teeth
and draw your lungs to stillness,
let the full night wind its arms
behind your head, and you will find
that eternity settles in
at the center of your body.

You know these are the same stars
in which Abraham counted his children,
the same lights that guided
slaves to freedom,
the same corded belt of the hunter called
Anu by the Babylonians,
Nimrod by storytellers in old Hungary,
Orion by the ancient Greeks —

they looked up and saw their heroes
and their gods, but tonight you
tilt your head back and think you see
the reflection of two eyes, blown huge
like a fractal's enormous patterns
beginning maybe
with little me, maybe
with tiny you.

Yours is the song of the billionth
atom in the crystal, the thousandth
tapestry thread, the fiftieth
mosaic tile, the thirteenth
puzzle piece, the first
mouth to speak of the infinite
thoughts that only
you can dream,

so release your heavy shoulders
and sleep sound, wrapped up
in this old comfort.
You may remember the occasion
of your birth, or of the world's
beginning . . .
you may remember that
long ago, someone took the time
to number those distant suns and
named every one.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Scope (Meghan)


I’ve been alive for a little while--
You for longer, ambling on cobblestones and
gravel paths that coat your feet with cinders.
You wondered: when will walking feel like home
when Sun has circumscribed its name
around your shape so many times, and you
have circumvented hers when once you spoke
it hopefully, linked its sounds with yours.
It’s felt like forever but you never said forever
until forever felt like someplace you might be.
Those syllables aren’t strange, though I wonder
how we know that they are true: for-ev-er,
the length of time our human brains can chew
but not digest, bubble gum swallowed in second grade.
Someone told you it would stay there all your days,
and how are we to know any different? I picture you in ashes,
though you said you’d rather slip whole into the sea
as you are, or be buried without a wooden box.
I asked if I could hire someone to hoist you
overboard, someone to dig the grave.
You picture me in a black dress—not because it’s
tradition, because you simply know.
And though it’s only mind-forever, it feels like longer
if my burned-up body gets to mix with yours like
our living limbs intertwined in evening and at dawn.
I suppose it could be ghosts or God, whispering
Water and bloom, water and bloom,
and the hissing makes us sure our feet will step
in step until forever makes phantoms
of these early days of love.