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