March 12, 2009

Michael



The apartment walls were stark white, the carpet and your hair
the same auburn. Reds were big then, like your bloody anger
over tomato soup. How long and lean and cool you were. Steely eyes
and icy attitude topped with hot: hair, head, and pursuit of passion.
Michael the enigma, my nemesis, the electric switch of my libido,
you could beat me down and eat me back around to believing.

When, finally, I left, you held up in my apartment for three days.
I returned to find no stones rolled back, only twisted sheets,
bedroom a ransacked wardrobe, drawers pulled open, every
ashtray spilling over. Nothing hid from the un-shaded lamp’s glare.
To end your rampage you ate the medicine chest – swallowed it whole
and spewed it on the rug. I can see you there, rocking on your heels,

bent on begging me back in. After the sirens died in the distance,
I was left alone with that comforting vomit stain. I drew strength from the weakness of your gut. You couldn’t hold death down in your belly long enough to let it take you. I always believed you fed me. You didn’t.
You fed on me. For a time I enjoyed your feasting. Your tongue sending
hard and soft messages at once. Have other women split in two?

Or was it just the mix of me and you? Michael, Aries of fire, I remember the light that shone from lamps you broke, that worn-out couch sprayed with the shattered glass of a framed print, phone call, after phone call, after phone call, the only words from the receiver, “Meg, Meg.“ You at my windows and doors pressing your fingertips and face against the pane. And I remember lovemaking on the living room floor, the open window’s wooden shade tapping in the summer night

wind. The city sounds of voices and barking in the far yard, all of these, lit by the licks of fire between us. Or in the bedroom, convent lights glowing across the street, showing the sisters what they’d missed about their brothers. In those years we were too busy posing to take a photograph. I am left with the tiny silver charm you gave me, letters I never sent and the brown clay pot you made in grade school which is now my favorite ashtray. I cover my knees with the quilt we

once covered with flames. Michael, do you hear my ghostly call? See my press against your window? Does my specter roam the moors of your warm thought? You vowed no other woman would flare you up as hot. Speechless and angry we’d go to bed and awake unchanged. Yet between the dark invisibility of night sheets how needs erased pride and postponed apologies – we rubbed sticks to fiery blaze, exchanged kisses, fluids & places. At dawn, the wall between us rose

as if our passion were only dreamt. Michael, are you my invention? Something I created and un-create and recreate tonight on paper? You do not answer. Now a tapping on the window of the summer night wind, the neighbor’s voices, a dog barking in the next yard, distract me. In the brown ashtray, I snuff you out with my cigarette. You linger there in the last glow of its embers.

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