a blown-out match

A Blown-Out Match

Looking down through green, guarded shades,
A forest clearing at twilight.
I ask her to stop digging through the dirt.
Too young, I tell her, are the roots.
Two freshly hatched and tendrilous.

There have been times,
Times when I have taken her hand,
Cracked her fingers one-by-one
And kissed the hair pulled back behind her ears.

There have been nights,
Late and awake,
I’ve passed my skin against her skin,
Milked the dreamless and dreamful beauty of her.

Oft have been the warm times,
The Sunday afternoon times,
Of whispered arm brushes and batted eye lashes.
Looks down shirts and hands up skirts.

Yet those have been the have been times
And now the songs that once stirred her in me,
Sound like nothing.

Put another way: no ointment now can save
The crack that is splitting down my lip.
She is the banging of a piano
And my ears are shut,
She is the grating of a beach’s sand,
And my skin is dry.

My skin is dry
And cracked:
It bristles.

Come with me, she says, and takes my hand.
Leads me down steps and alleyways,
Into and out from stands of green-gold trees.

She smells like lavender,
Or a spread-out novel,
A dirt caked shovel,
Week-old sheets,
A blown-out match.
Put another way: A smoked cigarette,
Picked from the road.

She feels like the first piece of a jigsaw puzzle
A plastic pay phone
A knocked-knee
A hit funnybone.
Boxers, too small.

She stops now, at another place and turns to me:
Come and meet my eyes where over the sea they have strayed,
And from this cliff let us toss the seeds of something started.
Miles have we come both, through days and months and years,
Miles to here, we have tread, and here,
We are now.
I have read many books, long and old.
In them all, this is how love begins.
So let us begin ours.

Later, alone: Roots, I kicked,
Under what passed for a maple tree,
Beside what passed for a pond.
Up and about, I felt wind pull me,
It smelled of a blown-out match.
Then, up from a place
That I imagined as beautiful,
You strode,
Unfurled, long necked,
Naked and sweat soaked.

I paused in my kicking and stooped
And watched and breathed.
Then behind you appeared a man,
Just as naked as you,
Just as sweat soaked
And covered,
In what I imagined,
Was you.

So beneath those roots I laid you,
Under what passed for a maple tree
Beside what passed for a pond.

He, I let go.
Punished by what I thought must be
A very deep sense of loss.
And I?
I let myself go too,
Punished by what I thought must be
A very deep sense of jealousy,
And trailed forever now,
By the smell,
Can you guess of what?

More: Poetry

[Image is “Puddle” by M.C. Esher]

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