The singular aspen is white
and panicked as a wish. It is
shedding its brittle skin of singed
paper like demon tongues. It is
licking the air like a hungry
lover, like soft tide coming in from the west.
Somewhere a wheezing child
wades barefoot through deaf wires
looking for a skull in the moon.
a man flushes his identification
down the toilet,
and nearby a woman begins
every third morning
with a promise to abstain.
She lines the mirror in cellophane
to perfect her rippled pride.
It is cellulose and enlarged pores,
smeared mascara like a battalion.
Stillborn to ashes
of green things and precious things
survived by all those things she has
gotten away with
(sometimes she can’t believe
what she's gotten away with)—
This isn’t now.
You are still gone
am becoming aware of my belly,
how it rises and falls with the regularity
how it is becoming more elastic and supple.
There is so much
between these breaths
that come without invitation.
I am apt to let this continue.
I am a preserved
piece of birchwood, burnt out, and
the city's gray outline through
the smudged dining room window.
I don’t have to be
right all the time but it helps—
deciding which shoes I’ll wear
the next time I visit you.
When wrong I cower
behind the houseplants and it
snows. I palpitate
with the drop of each flake and
nourish the ferns with my sweat.
The favors you grant
leave me seeing blonde, feeling
Macbethean in layered
tees—beastly brown, worried white.
Desire can't bargain.
Look, you're still gone.
I am petrified
like even-tempered boredom,
a perfectly transfixed panic kit
with eyes on each of my fingertips.
Starched voices love valium
insomnia enhances lithium’s parched
at all those antidepressants
that adore a good merlot.
sin, sin, sin—dumb head,
I leave a worried tread
from the bathroom to the, desk, from the....
There is trouble in these parts.
The soul is a bridge to desire
spanning ever more treacherous
currents of memories
I don’t even benefit from anymore
and it begins
with my interminable heartbeat
throbbing in my warm ears
and pouring out my open palms.
Look, I'm still breathing.