Near and Far Sighted
The south, with its sense of flowers.
The drawl of the Mississippi, the magnolias, the mamas,
and you. Cathedral bells mixed with light rain and wind.
You found me blind and summoned me to give me sight.
You decorated my city with bridges and wind and a faint translucent pulse
that I would learn to memorize and feel through
the bone structures of your fingers.
Topography and texture have this elegant silence
that is almost musical. You brought
those senses to me
in the jukebox of your body.
Then came the storms, the accidents, the small crimes,
the sirens as we eyed closer to cataclysm.
Something in me longed to be burned, to be singed,
to be completely exposed. I began to notice
no day went by without shadow,
but in the south such shade is welcomed.
I sat with you under a crepe myrtle tree and remember
picking flowers off the ground,
all distant and languid.
You were so beautiful to me.
Eventually you taught me how to live in paralysis,
how to sense flames and how to endure stalled pauses
in those beautiful eyes. You often would watch me swim,
your eyes almost jealous
the water could give me flush and ambiance.
Still, I’d tell you, all smiles,
I am bathed in the joy of your company.
At night, you fluttered our room like a captured raven.
I realized in those hours
there was little difference between
how you loved and the madness inhabiting you.
I was a landmass sometimes inert, sometimes
full of land mines, sometimes a quiet port
where your eyes would come to shore.
I was the hills and the hills behind the hills
where sometimes you could lay safely
and other times you appeared like a sniper
ready to open fire on anything that you feared.
In your softest moments, I learned you had a soft violence in you,
a taxi cab that might not honk twice before taking you off in the night.
Time moved and I felt the pin in the the hand grenade being pulled.
My bravery grabbing so many explosives from your grasp.
Lying next to you in bed, I would watch you and think
‘when she leaves you, you will have to go on.’
The night they called me to tell me you drove over a 600 foot cliff,
I dropped a bucket of ice water on the floor
and set bonfires to my nerves.
I looked at my veins. They hadn’t collapsed or broke.
When we met skin too skin, I too was learning who I was.
The death reminded me of what my heart
could not show up and say. I prayed,
those hours when I was brave enough to speak,
when you would rest your head on my shoulder,
maybe you heard the lilts of love and concern in my voice.
We live on in the sweet, southern air.
Secretly, I still look after you like afternoons do evenings.
For a time, I was blank, and was not sure
who or what I trusted myself to look after.
My head full of syllables, I could not formulate
words or poems. I wasn’t sure if I ever would again.
One evening, I opened the screen door and windows
and just let the southern breeze pour in.
I poured a cup of sweet tea, drank it,
and tasted all the sugar you were to me.
I set the glass down, took a giant gulp of
the southern air, distinct and as pure
as the night I knew I loved you.
Then I moved back north.
I gave us the springs, the heat, all the little critters,
that young love brings. When snow falls
and the roads get dangerously icy,
I know we’re somewhere safe.