My left hand will live longer than my right. The rivers
of my palms tell me so.
Never argue with rivers. Never expect your lives to finish
at the same time. I think
praying, I think clapping is how hands mourn. I think
staying up and waiting
for paintings to sigh is science. In another dimension this
is exactly what’s happening,
it’s what they write grants about: the chromodynamics
of mournful Whistlers,
the audible sorrow and beta decay of “Old Battersea Bridge.”
I like the idea of different
theres and elsewheres, an Idaho known for bluegrass,
a Bronx where people talk
like violets smell. Perhaps I am somewhere patient, somehow
kind, perhaps in the nook
of a cousin universe I’ve never defiled or betrayed
anyone. Here I have
two hands and they are vanishing, the hollow of your back
to rest my cheek against,
your voice and little else but my assiduous fear to cherish.
My hands are webbed
like the wind-torn work of a spider, like they squeezed
something in the womb
but couldn’t hang on. One of those other worlds
or a life I felt
passing through mine, or the ocean inside my mother’s belly
she had to scream out.
Here when I say “I never want to be without you,”
somewhere else I am saying
“I never want to be without you again.” And when I touch you
in each of the places we meet
in all of the lives we are, it’s with hands that are dying
When I don’t touch you it’s a mistake in any life,
in each place and forever.
Many people dedicate their lives to actualizing a concept of what they should be like, rather than actualizing themselves.
This difference between self-actualization and self-image actualization is very important. Most people live only for their image
i point to my breast, say once wounded. point to my mouth, say battled. point to my hands say have, have, and have. i am pointing, acknowledging, understanding, and letting go, kneading my muscles and my flesh. learning to smile for real this time. and in the process i am building myself up again. there was fire. there were embers. there was ash. and here i am. i am smiling shyly and standing here, now, in front of you, holding my palms outstretched. i am trying to be vulnerable in the rawest, most uninhabited sense that i can be, open again in a way that i haven’t been since i was in reykjavik last june, so apart from my world that i felt like i was myself again, that i inhabited myself fully. i am so tired of playing the game of existing, of knowing how to make people love me, and feeling as if i’ve been giving away these fake, small little slices of my pseudo-self as a way of allowing myself to feel, to truly feel, to love, to truly love, in every definition of the word. instead of coping with the loss of my adolescence, instead of trying to clutter myself up with small, small loves to compensate for the way the small girl-child in me had been left, i am here acknowledging my solitude. i am here acknowledging my smallness, my bursting points, my unending, unyielding capacity for love. i am standing here with my palms outstretched, and asking very gently for you to hold them. because this time, i’m really scared. this time, in this new life, this new world, i will take the chance of feeling for myself again. and there is love here. there is love. and it is something that we have never thought to look for before.
af·ter·glow \≈\ n. I. The light. esp. in the Ohio sky after sun-
set: as in the look of the mother-of-pearl air during the morning’s
afterglow. 2. The glow continuing after the disappearance of a
flame, as of a match or a lover, and sometimes regarded as a type
of phosphorescent ghost: This balm, this bath of light / This
cocktail of lust and sorrow, / This rumor of faithless love on a
neighbor’s lips, / This Monday morning, this Friday night, / This
pendulum of my heart, / This salve for my soul, / This tremble
from your body / This breast aflame, this bed ablaze / Where you
rub oil on my feet, / Where we spoon and, before sunrise, turn
away / And I dream, eyes open, / swimming / In this room’s pitch-
their mouths move, but they do not say anything. i cannot hear them; i do not listen. i am stubborn, i think to myself, as i fix a cup of coffee with milk and honey. i sear the edges of an egg in a frying pan, watching yellow yolk spill into my hands, watching hot oil stain my pants. after showering, i go outside with a wet head and wish my hair will freeze, so i can shatter every strand piece by piece. i run the back of my hand beneath my nose, shivering slightly. sometimes i wish i lived inside a snow globe, pressing my hands and face against the glass. i shrug a jacket on, i shrug it off. my shoulders are small and curved beneath the weight of every mistake i’ve ever made. i am Atlas, afraid, i say into the mirror, spitting out toothpaste and a mouthful of dirty snow into the drain.
There’s nothing more intimate in life than simply being understood. And understanding someone else.