NIGHT IN THE NAME OF HER ONLY SIGHT
In precision the battalions returned. As the borders shifted, as the moment my body’s other country kicks at the center, I map the dark. It thins my body. I wanted things to be whole and perfect for awhile without the question of alliance.
Oil rushed my throat.
I was taught to restructure each dream with completion.
It was an exchange, and I took it. I bloodlet the wounds and gathered tinctures among herons and asphodels.
Bees buckled the canvas sun, a paradigm for heat’s mutation over the lawn where the dandelion’s roots and burnt grass tangled into an earthen tarp. No movement. No one but me.
Nothing descends over the shimmering, no light blinks beyond the ridge. I didn’t know how you kept shelter in hoarfrost, no demand came. No goodness wandered from the hallowed slopes where you lay. A soldier without superstition. One leaderless outcast.
I inhaled the sun in a partial breath, the rhythm of an uneven pulse. The moon's citation emerged upon the mountain. I planted a medal to your coat in pre-burial. For years I dreamed a winter sun, dreamed this accident under the gray eclipse, this night, the embalmed sky. I never said a word. I was without merit in the meritorious dark.
I disappeared as I stared at your throat where camouflage married your jawline.
Only the smell of camphor in the small room, the texture of your hair against my cheek; a blade of light under the door streams the room into a crooked shore. A spate of storms reach the headland.
In that state, semi-waking into sleep yet failing, you sat on a lime-green stool against long planes of glass, a lake behind you.
I woke rowing through thistles, weeds, rubbish, swamps amid my language.
In the years of the recurrent dream you lay on the ocean floor.
I memorized rows of seagrass, a shallow whip
in the mirror--low and far behind your reflection in the window. Of the sea’s sound
I leaned into water’s flames. Motes, your ashes, you double in a in shallow grove, a buried
room in which the doors prop open.
Once trauma’s asphyxiation releases to ether, color and texture
dissolve and irrational thoughts are a privilege.
I know you’re at the end of this system of music.
Our knees touched as we knocked across waves.
In the splintered boat, our smallness
silenced the noon tankers. Their shadows began
as blackout-tarps and paused
between our dilated eyes. Femur to femur, our
brace. We wanted to exit
the water, for the tide to pull us apart.
I wanted to drown the memory.
Maureen Alsop, Ph.D. is the author of Pyre; Later, Knives & Trees; Mirror Inside Coffin; Mantic; Apparition Wren and several chapbooks. She is a recent finalist for the Montreal Poetry Prize, the winner of the Tony Quagliano International Poetry Award through the Hawaii Council for the Humanities, Harpur Palate's Milton Kessler Memorial Prize for Poetry and The Bitter Oleander’s Frances Locke Memorial Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in various journals including AGNI, Blackbird, Tampa Review, DIAGRAM, Memorious, The Kenyon Review, and featured on Verse Daily. Her debut collection of visual poetry, Tender to Empress, is forthcoming with Wet Cement Press.