The Four Last Things
by Winnona Elson Pasquini

I

Under the lindens, a boy. Beside the graveled walk,

a girl. He watches her—

this is as it has always been. She cracks walnuts against gray

slate. The wood hammer

splinters

at an old break, but she does not notice the jab,

nor the necessity of pain. The boy wants

to run to her and touch the blood

that spills on the walnuts—

still round and whole upon the broken slate.

II

The young man reaches for the condoms—no,

he won’t buy ten other items to make them

seem incidental. The tired clerk does not speak.

Outside the store, the girl—no, not girl,

but woman waits in her daddy’s Jag,

wearing something that glitters like glass.

In the disappearing sun,

his eyes seem to bleed just looking at her.

The parking lot light

halos her tilting head. Yes, he tells her, yes.

III

The woman tastes of mystery, of unknown waters

and the distance of oceans. He thinks she cries

for the length of him against the length of her. Her hair,

given to his hands, smells of iodine. He inhales the sound

of seagulls in the matted length of it and tastes the whiteness

of sand powdering her neck. Taking the weight of her,

his back sinks into warm grit. His mind cannot resist

movie memory as he thinks,

So this is what it means to be damned.

IV

Come, let us stitch the whalebone to soft linen. Lace

and crinoline. Layers and layers
that bind elemental sea

and cottony earth. Stitches

holding elements passed through a forge

of flesh—a needle so sharp that when you press
the point against your ear it passes through easily,

hardly bleeding at all. Then let us hush

to hear the nightjar’s call rising from woods:

This is what love means

This is what love means—

the convex wave of sound sieved by dark
and dusk.       Listen now—the birds

are silent. The only voice

is the rain—the only sound is your mouth

opening beneath my touch.

Come into the dark, and I will show you fear—

I will show you dust.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 15, Issue 4.

Winnona-Pasquini Winnona Elson Pasquini is a poet living in Tampa, Florida, whose recent publications include work in Tripod Cat, Tipton Poetry Journal, Rock & Sling, Autumn Sky Poetry, and The Chronicle of Higher Education Online.  She is also the winner of both the 2008 Estelle J. Zbar and the 2008 Bettye Newman Poetry Awards.

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