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
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.
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.
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.
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.
See all items about Winnona Elson Pasquini