The arc of distance is partial.
A continuum belated us, like the slow-motion
spit of a shaman. Friendships went south. We could not
name our freedoms, only the pause between days
in which all matters of belonging
densely accrued, then
scattered. I could not wake up. She wore
a tiara and spoke rapidly
into the swollen air,
youthful and eager, in bliss for that, while I
changed into a shadow just as the oil,
heating in the kitchen, began to snarl
and a single mosquito
itched against the screen, wanting
out, or blood. The arc of distance is partial.
The sun set into its given, not prone to regret or sorrow.
I’ll stay in the thick jungle’s weeds, without
expertise, and mystify the brand. A quotidian
logic animates the scene, heads
busy under cover of night. I’ll stay
here by the leaves yellowing in their
dotage, among sentences
dangling on webs and irreducible
to the temptation to flee. I’ll
be here in the ancient shade of a crass
belligerent god, huge on a high wire,
teetering over an abyss. I’m here, sweetheart,
dressed in my skin, ready
There is some kindness in the zone of farewell: handing
over the towel, removing the shoes, looking away
from the hanging figure’s heavy pain,
sending a note: Beloved, I regret you were not able to continue on this path we made together, but did not follow, and that your mouth fit so easily over its lies like a kiss. No matter. We are severed from the memorial’s agenda, which has, as you know, moved on without us.
The light is blue-gray
and the evidence of harm has been removed,
swept under the great litter they call what happened
Copyright © 2018 by Ann Lauterbach. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.