the empty semi-trucks, stacked like dominoes, are a body metallic between the grey warehouses and the hot dog shop. the chili and malt shake toss and turn in your gut. your bones—bolts of sugary lightning. your old neighbor’s lawn is still a garden of weeds. your childhood best friend walks her dog and you don’t stop the rental car to say hello. at the old house, the pine tree your sister planted is now fifteen feet tall. it reaches, sharp and wild, into the blue, and you could swear it leans towards you as you drive by. like it knows from whose hands it sprung, who planted it, who watered it drunk.
as you sleep, I am thinking about the pressure of leaves. their curl and snap and how they hold on long. how autumn is just another word for forgetting. how the cold blows through my shirt while the air turns and hurts our bones. downhill, the lake begins to freeze, from the top down—everything trapped underneath. I remember the season when I saw a fawn curled at the side of the road and she blinked at me, slowly. I remember the first time I gave blood I felt drained—dry and dizzy. I memorize your mouth as you sleep—its breathy opening, your tongue resting like a pearl. I do not remember when I saw you last—your back turning away from my body—a shadow. I imagine that we wept. it must have been this way: the earth curled around us and no matter if we wanted to or not, we remembered everything.
self-portrait as shadow, as wall, as fool trying on gold rings until they fit. knuckle-born, night-ridden. I am the water, laughing. I reach to touch my mouth and my hand returns with a peach pit. every sad story starts out this way: I watch the moon buck against the wind. my back curls into a snakebite. I try to be important and necessary. my hair lifts and rises from my body like a cloud or spiderweb. my mother sees me floating and smacks me down with the wooden spoon. the foxglove moths keep flying. it feels like pain, and it’s just begun. I look in the mirror. pick at my teeth with needles. this is my self-portrait: the worn, nearly transparent dress sock tucked into my best shoes. self-portrait as my deepest bruise.
the dark tells me nothing about observation. flyover lands are shadows, the sky offers up darkness and we snatch it up. I lay chest up against the weeping lawn— fire flickers up the back of my neck. the heat has two faces. the wind whips sand into my mouths— the young palm trees submit to the push. one hundred sailboats line the bay like a string of pearls. a storm pushes above the sun. I talk to myself in my small apartment. I narrate as I hard-boil eggs until the yolk is just cooked. just cooked or barely set, or still swimming in salted water. on the shore’s stiff jaw. I am a perforated scroll of steel; hammered thin slice of beef. I love the color orange until I can’t look anymore. I collect the dark until I am nothing but a ghost on the night’s leather belt.
when clouds of people gather at the lake’s dark mouth to see how the moon paints it pink, I am alone, and the lighthouse is a red metal sun. the moon is so close I can smell its breath; it has teeth like silver fish—flickering, I am turned loose by the flash photography, the crowd flanking my solitary body. the moon dips itself into black ink— speaks in exhalations, deep sighs. the water is a frigid rush of cymbals. the mine to the west is quiet and the ore is black as wet night. a man to my right says, the moon, it’s going so slow this year, like the moon knows the speed of lips, the ache it reaches into. a man to my left can’t stop clearing his throat, like the moon clearing its throat and putting on its face of milk. the moon is asking me to say something. the lake does not believe me when I say I am leaving, chasing the songs of wolves. I don’t believe me either. I am a collector of disbelief. the moon reclaims its body, the lake pushes harder. its current tongues my feet, pink under the blood moon, it numbs me as if it misses me. as if it whispers in syllables of soft foam.
when I fall in love with a man who is stupid and beautiful, she shakes her head and her hair whips against my neck— bouquet of needles. she pants into my ear when I touch myself. she is a quiet quilt— memory of my body. see through, malleable. her life is so easy. she is so eager to please. pressed up against hot concrete, fragile glass. gravel in her teeth. in her creases. if asked, I would describe her as thin and clear-skinned. one dimensional apparition of bone. dark cup of shimmering water. endless depths. oil slick of sweat. floor of the deepest canyon.⅋