You gather the lilies in the folds of your thoughts
they are the same colour and feel of your skin,
under a torn silk dress stained with rainwater
You are a white sky
bruised with the sound of the sea

When I lay down with you by the ocean
the lines in the sand
tangled tightly into the lines of your palms:
these become your fishing nets
Inside them, you hold my heart, a seahorse
coiled deep in its fetal position;
the cluster of my lungs, wet and dark as seaweed;
and my eyes, twin seashells
that close shut on their own shadows

I am your mermaid, you say,
and you are my song that washed away

You know the words I was going to say
before I say them
like a forest knows
the shadows that wander through; they are
always new
but always remembered
because their kind has walked there
oh so many
times before




You fade like red in the light of the morning
You become the colour of rust
You begin to match the truck in the yard
abandoned and free to do its own bidding

You gave me your name and your business card
You wanted a life that was full of beginnings
You wanted a sky that was empty of warnings
You wanted a heart made harder by lust

You asked me to take your name and your pain
And baptismal waters made sacred by sinning:
Your ocean was placid, you needed my thrust,
You wanted the red of a sailor’s morning

You wandered between our bed and the cold waves
You asked me if I would continue adorning
your neck with fine beads like the night of our wedding,
the sweat that unwinds between mountains of dust

You gave me your ride and I gave you my trust
I opened my heart wide instead of spreading
My legs were held tightly against my chest, my hands
Were gripping your wrists and your lists of demands



I stood under the shadows of the frost-lined lilac tree
its branches lifted to the sky by the thrust
of the fists of brittle flowers not yet broken apart by the cold
I hid under laughter
not wanting to ask:
are you too young for me
too sure of what you want

I wore a red dress that is too tight
But it keeps my heart from falling out
and making a mess all over your shoes

After we talk inside for a while,
you yawn to tell me I should go home
I catch this
like a fishhook through skin
intention that blooms into accident

You used to drive me across the city
And now every red car that passes
reminds me
of the way your dark hair looked
when you rested your head on my lap
and turned your voice away

I don’t want to hear about how you used to bring
women flowers
I don’t want to know this
I imagine you always chose the red ones. We like these best
They remind us that we’re not pregnant, and so
there’s nothing to fear

that we are still young
and in between the rifts of our bodies
there is still time
to live as if there is no need for sleep

My dreams have become ingrown
like fingernails
I never cut them
I sense your eyes aren’t used to candlelight
and so you see by touch
you read the thoughts
that I hide just beneath my skin

you know the braille of goosebumps
like the princess knew a single pea
under a stack of 20 mattresses:
these are the things that mean

When you left, I held onto all your childhood fears
that you once told to me between shards of broken glass
and I kept the shadows you left on my body
They spread like water over linen

When you used to sleep beside me
I would look out the window every morning
at the birds
the northern cardinals
points of blood against
the silence of the white sky