In the Land Between Sex and Conception
there are no trees, save
the shadows of trees, and words
that roll their shadows to root.
Whatever line will divide
the earth from the sky
hasn’t yet squinted its sight
down the globe. The wind lulls
in translucent coils
but unrolls to release all the birds.
The beasts nest in their own
thought balloons. And you—
unborn notion, no skin
yet to float on—do you lounge
here near oceans still learning
to pool? Or are you dispersed
like so many concertgoers
awaiting the music’s faint cry?
It will come, it will come
to where the rivers now run
like dreams in the grooves of a knife.
Like the last house still lit
within a cul-de-sac
you draw the street’s sporadic
light behind your glass
and hold it. Your thoughts, I mean,
they trend effortlessly inward
as less leaves you enamored.
Not long ago I scooped
a bubbled necklace
from your bathtub, or paused
to point out—see it, caught there
in Sutro Tower’s tongs?—moons
still risen in the morning.
But the surprise of sidewalk stones
has given way to words;
they dull a new thing’s charm,
make room for make-believe
I’ve long dreaded the latter—
how my impatience
will lodge itself inside
your mind’s dark loam.
Nothing bright from it will thrive.
What faults of mine won’t fester?
In time these words will replace
the man I’ll become, while
the man I’ll become
will replace the one who wrote them.
I feel your eyes upon me
endlessly. I see myself
smoldering inside them.
Look for me in the stillness preceding
your footsteps, in the hand
hovering over a tray of desserts.
My shadow angles at any given hour
toward the largest gaggle of people still
milling around. Would you please
buy me your drink? We’ve met
in the hiccup between cable stations
but lean now into this tavern’s laughter
and wonder: will it lift us like a wave?
My preference is to prefer nothing.
You ask to swap past lives like hot air.
From my childhood I remember
other children. From high school I learned
how abstinence seduces till it’s gone.
This will be apparent if you follow me
home. See my front door, faded
from such eager knocking. See my voicemail
ticking its red numbers north.
My whispers (come closer, come listen)
make poll graphs quiver like tantalized
nerves. Will you consider spending the night?
The still air reminds you of all you’ve not said.