“The Clock Moves Backward”
Days measured in stutters,
Arms and legs rustle through a long list of
A few lines to hum each day.
Cigarettes consumed, roses wilted, cream pots emptied.
The clock moves backward.
A uniform scattering of your laundry line:
Beiges and greys.
Tiles cracked around the porcelain bathtub,
Scene of so many prayers:
The taking in of men;
Purges from the colorful world.
Pallor turned a uniform ash—
A doing-over of makeup regiments.
Runs in stockings, dents in pillows, bent soup spoons,
Ticking slowly down.
Wrists wrung with artifacts,
Identifying marks, your culture: departure.
Slippers in the cherry oak doorway—
Sentry in ruby and taupe—catching visitors in stride.
Your island among
The onset of their strain of homogeny,
Cracked tea cups, consumed papers, extra freckles.
Fading in the sun.
Flowerbeds left untended,
Their heavy black diamonds frosting kitchen windows,
Petals wearying at empty cupboards,
The full sink.
I cut you into paper moons while twilight
waited wrapped in the curtain—you proved to be
the perfect preface to spring rains.
I stitched you back together, found that there were
small holes where I had been clumsy; your lungs
refused to keep to themselves and I grew used to
checking your heartbeat with my pinkie.
When the sleet hour came—same time as last year—
your hips rocked in time with the rending
of flour bags and rusted whisks.
I never knew how to translate the screams
which whispered through the front door. They sang
to you alone.
The rough edges of your mouth hung dangerous,
an amber bow unfurling as you wept. Enamored,
I tied soup spoons in your hair,
a tinkling warning to the western wind.
Find me upstairs tomorrow and I will be folding myself
into origami swans—winged things silent and prayerful—
dappled in light from crescent holes that linger still.