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  • Writer's pictureErin Brown

POETRY | I Wrote A Poem, Once

I wrote a poem once for a man who did not deserve it, she says.

He had a darkness inside, a humidity, but eyes like icewater:

polluted and cold as New York snow.

I turn up my collar at the chill of the place

where all my beautiful words about you used to be.

I wrote a poem for you once, she says, and

it is a long breath out that I cannot ever take back.

I sang a song once for a man who did not earn it,

and she says it with a sigh that echoes like an abandoned house.

I gave you my syllables: gems of belief, a crown of sounds.

Then I went looking for wine in your cellar and instead found you:

a cold, disappointing, instant coffee of a man.

I sang a song for you once, she says, and stares at the floor

as though he were a drain and her final note, a lost diamond ring.

I wore a dress once for a man who did not see it,

and the words fall to the ground beneath her bare feet,

like a stray piece of confetti still floating hours after the parade has ended.

It was blue and covered in tiny white birds, she says:

frozen mid flight on the cotton as though summer is just around my every corner.

I wore a dress for a man once, she says, and in her eyes

lies the wonder of what might have been had he bothered to look up.

I gave him a heart too, she says, and the regret lays before her like

a rejected, unopened application for the job of her dreams.

I used to think of it: juicy and ripe with life

like a summer peach beating beneath my ribs. Now it's exposed. Like a bone.

She cups the full, floral teacup between prayerful hands.

I gave him a heart, she says, and dwells in the thought of small, strange things.

Like how you can water loss with a sea of tears and still feel like a desert.

But have I given my life, she wonders: offers the thought up like incense

on an alter: a last fragrant offering to the person she wants to be.

A poem I cannot untell, nor words make unsaid, and songs once sung

cannot be retrieved from the air after the singing.

But my life, she says, rising from the table like a nervous sun and putting

the still-warm porcelain in the sink on a tiny, sparkly note.

My life is still mine to give, and its worth is more than your lazy silence, sir.

Who are you, she says, looking outside and taking a deep breath of the grey quiet.

A storm is rolling in; her expression is lost in the glass as the air

whips and rings with electricity. A cauldron. A bell. A promise of something to come.

Who are you, she says: you person, creature, presence, thing?

You ghost of a word on the tip of my tongue; you thing I tasted once.

Who are you now, old hunger of mine, she says to him, and shrugs.

My heart must be getting older. I'm forgetting.

Erin Brown © 2014

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