"Do you think I don't know how love hallucinates?"
Mona Van Duyn
The disposable lighter ignites his face
into sunset. We are separated
by my left eye shutting as it swells
like a life jacket. On my cheek, his breath
tenderized by alcohol. He sobs
in the bruises wrapped around my torso.
I call him by name across the blood.
The resemblance is most uncanny.
Once, I opened the grandfather clock
and kissed the pendulum.
He is most beautiful when
he promises it won’t happen again.
I am his reflection every time
he looks down the wishing well.
A fist is a coin amplified. Out here,
we are all burning furniture—
once a woman’s left sleeve catches fire,
this is how wildly a heart can beat.
Still Life with Molar
In this child’s drawing,
the molar is larger than the apple.
I caught it, he said, with a string—
as if it were a fish that would never die,
never float in water—
but the string is only for appearances.
His whisper marks
a territory, A fist did it, you see.
And my face as it hit the table leg.
The apple is so red
it almost disappears into the red tablecloth.
I didn’t know what to use
on the tooth, he said,
so I made this outline and colored
around it. Under his nails,
the smell of crayons grew its own family.
On the molar, there’s a drawing
of his father as he appears
to him in really bad dreams: a study,
perhaps, on safe distances.
How did the whale feel after it spat out Jonah,
he wanted to know. Did the whale
die from the sudden emptiness inside?