More poems from THERMOS #9! Carolyn Blessing, formerly of New Orleans, presently works for Outward Bound, in areas between Florida and California.
Wide Night on the Ukrainian Border
I abandoned my face and stilled, to remain well suited for most things. Machine guns lined the gate, and me with my hands drenched in black sugar from Chust. It was midnight and starless and I’d been alone on the border for days.
In Lygra she’d said, I don’t know what’s worse, to be religious or cynical. That night firmly fixed between neither. Stuck shock-less. Like catching someone peering between curtained windows. Water seemed imperative then, but the line between need and want had sharpened (thank god).
I refused to cross with the stranger’s cigarettes, and I didn’t miss another train, and I vowed to learn the Cyrillic alphabet, or at least the name of one place to hold written on a scrap. Sleep continuously impossible, I knew joy could come in waves (if willed). But urgency didn’t make anything honest. It felt fair to unsettle, and watch the beetling precipice fall, towards a pinprick that was some untouchable end. It was a wide night.
With dawn came rain. Fat fantastic drops smacking at the pavement. A smell as wet and dark as it felt. In infancy my mother held me outside in rain for quiet. The feathering of its taste green and lush when breathing.
I carried all the sawdust up the steps and turned to face the tracks. A light reflected unwound evening back. Wind glittered down the spine of a tree. I re-gathered my own backbone and ran. At a sprint I lost track of my legs. (Thrilling) a brain has the power to lose its limbs in thought. I was conscious, then, of it feeling good–
Pronging the city. Rye at the belly of it. Your one indelible eye.
In a giant sleeping insect, watch the caged sky settle. Outside, an endless lick of olive trees, a wash of shingles in delicate crumble. The undulating segments bombed were found again in water. Cracks re-sealed to form a woman, blank with eyes. Her parts are statued, fastened to a bridge and now — she is the sum of what is heaved. Heaving in her naked bones.
You eat pork tongue and almost eat the tail end of your cigarette, telling me your grandsons all are gorgeous. When you breathe deep I see your dreams puff round. Each singular twist a lift. It’s elegant. Turrets fountaining your eyes, a waterfall about your mouth. You say women are olive trees: twenty years to bear fruit but then we live forever, ingest everything. It’s a gesture of surrender, to a saturated dawn. I’m soaked in dark.
We arrive beetle-like. Elasticity in inches. Growth not seen.
Arrangements in Gray
I learn a lot eating macaroni in your kitchen
elbows propped on green linoleum
it’s ugly, your kitchen
we laugh about it
we go to the ocean on a loveless day
on either side of the horizon we float
same, sky laughs at our lonely–
I learn to love the gray of it
a distant meeting of limbs
a tree that burns blue on your carpet
after dinner we read in silence
while berries boil, filling the house
a dream state that swings slow
your bedroom walls are post-coital murals
I spend the evening untying
de-feathered and flawed feels excellent
a body lusting itself
a skeleton grieving itself
at daybreak we are of ourselves
I drive home with the radio off
past an adult video store lit pink
all I can think is how girls in my high school
stole thongs from department stores
tomorrow will open its mouth
on parting, a gift