Between Us

It’s neither scars nor scabs;
I scratch my head, I question
the perfection of your skin.
Your eyes still hold me
as your arms once did
but you’d give equal devotion,
the same thirsting glance,
to a sidewalk puddle.
What is it, then, that remains?

Is the answer in the silences?
The static? The seconds between
“Read” and response?
Can it sober up my perceived
meaning of the phrase
I need some time to settle,
but let’s connect soon
to a clean-living reality?

Is my unwavering hope
to be trusted in deciphering
that terrifying expanse of
wilderness between us
when I begin – again – to
bloom in your direction?
How closed are your petals?
How cold is it, still, in
your part of the world?

Will I find anything open,
anything sweet, if I venture out?
I ask the earth in earnest and
in terror, drowning out any answer
before it can speak plainly.
I pick at the sky for particles
that will make up a miracle.
I breathe in deep and beg to be
filled with a different song.
I stay indoors. I wait for the sun.

I know it isn’t of this world;
It isn’t solid, liquid, or gas,
though a closer air descends
down to paperweight my
fluttering, windswept heart
when I stand before you,
when I look in a mirror,
when I claw and bite
and resist surrender,
when I am blown to an edge,
when I am exactly where
I am supposed to be,
when I am anywhere,
anywhere at all.

I am thick with it,
whatever this is
between us.

(2019)

Big Orange

He traipses about the sparse gardens
Of Bushwick, early spring.
He’s been at it all winter too,
Though I don’t know how he bares it.

He appears as clean as they come,
Save a little matted fur on the underbelly;
You’d never know he was a wanderer
But then he opens his mouth to sing

Halfway between a howl and a pleasure call,
He scalds the air with a pierced moan.
It really seems to come from nowhere;
He doesn’t look to be in any pain.

We sometimes have staring contests,
Big Orange and I, through the window
Or from a distance when I’ve come
To the balcony for some night air.

Like recognizes like.
We bow to the other’s pain.

He’ll hold my gaze for minutes
Before turning tail and darting
Under the shoddy wooden fence,
Wailing into the fold of evening.

I hope to not hear him one day.
Not to say I wish him ill, but only
Wish to see him in a slice of sunlight,
Preening, basking, squinting, silent in his
Delight.

(2019)