Elsewhere

 

Courtesy: Miekala Cangelosi

There’s always a  reason for elsewhere, a chill, a  chance to  leave creases.  As the
sunlight at home became my only  memory,  I followed  vectors  over the country’s
thick  body.  Two  months at the  narrow end,  I lived with my  dust  in its traveled
colors in the bones  and rooms of a  clapboard house  stained a sad unpredictable
red. The house had been floated over the harbor, and sat, solemn, one street from
the mouth that never ceases.  In the mornings, as I recall, the flocked listless light
cast a  hull on the  back  wall,  and by night maple  leaves hovered  like fingers  in
darkness. Each road agreed  with the next,  taking me  forward.  The hours in each
cycle rose and receded.  I was  bystander,  hidden.  Water sprawled  its salt-broth
against  dike  and  docks.  The ocean  undressed  to an  exquisite  blue gown.  Day
after day: empire,  departure, routine.  The hurling Atlantic throwing its gesture on
sand.  Autumn layered  and pressed  against me.  Even  now, years later  and back
within the desert, the undulation has not diminished. 

 

Here is the City and it is Instantly Apparent

 

One week back what I lost again comes
to attention. Such is the delusion of leaving.  
A bus clambers from the valley where men flaunt
their angles and anguish on alcoves.
Where bay windows bend
from decisions, and the men now lean back
to dangle their vowels. Where the margins
are jackets and razors—places of drag-
around dark, and train rails continuously
turning closer. The city keeps bending
to disgorge black leather on plump bodies
burnt by tattoos. Day after day,
the floured fog until the sky thaws
its stubborn existence. 

Back then I held keys to rooms
between cornices and the salt-smell of clarity. 
I wrote notes of struggle that I gathered
under my bed. I remember believing
what I would never need
and this meant unsolving the world
of its broken prayers; and then it meant leaving
the city with its pitch and its plates, going past
roads. It meant a husband
and our liabilities. Belonging to other narratives:
rabbit, owl, insect, wolf. Meant learning
the pulse of rain's small batons
and the good gown of darkness. 
Before such plenty, there was also plenty.

 

The First to Refuse

 

A dubious week, and what remains
is more empty 

of understanding. We were in the careful
room, exhausting the pretty. 

He thanked me
for not kissing him. Less

to carry back. His speech
was in tune and somewhat 

restrictive. We stood
in the house without flowers without scratch-

coat with only sky. With somewhere
his wife and children, 

— but here, with only the light
cloth of summer. We stood 

in our bodies,
awkward. There were analogous doors

that went away
from me. No one knocked. 

This was after he paid
for the dinner. We’d sat on the porch, 

four of us, with improbable voices. 
His sister-in-law smoked

as I shivered,. She loaned me
her cardigan. Later,

he walked me through
all the rocky 

places to my small room. 
I count my defiance in the unknown 

spice of his sternum. 
By myself, when he left, I imitated 

my no to hear how it sounded.
I chose the pace of it, then continued 

to wait in the thin reach
of darkness. The clock was enough—

and those numbers. He realized
part of the past, 

and left through the elm leaves. 
At the curtain I heard the night 

chanting. For once, 
I was guilty

of nothing, not even
the moon’s sprawling.