She smoothed the creases in the bright blue sky, and when he arrived, there was barely time to clear the space between them of ash, coffee grounds, today’s paper, and flammable liquids scented of anise, of orange.
Her dune, his dromedary; their islands with violet horizons. He carved her initials in a cloud.
There was lightning in the night, and this morning, pitching horses are in the branches of trees. Fragrance bursts from their wild-eyed blooms, and sound is shaking their semilunar leaves. In the sky, the sun is wrestling blanketing clouds. Either way, warmth awaits around the corner.
Love is original, ours, or it’s a tool, lost.
A snail stands motionless in the kitchen. She, a finite spiral of delicate, edible flesh with pleasure at the center, suggests but does not speak of egg and bone. There are birds imprisoned in the cupboard; weather fossilizes over the stove. In another room, named grains of sand flow past a narrow opening and back again. How long before the furling leaves trail slowly into the doorway and carry the plaster shadow into the light?
A doe the color of iron steps out of the dripping woods to place a finely wrought foot on the desert pavement of your sidewalk. You may offer your hand, but in it she will place a question that you can’t answer, try as you might.
It’s a start. You pass an evening beginning at dusk amid smoke and conversation, effortless, ephemeral, yours, until, alert to the near-earth passing of an asteroid, she lifts her tail and sails.
The hum of the Sun, who spent his entirety last night but is fully back again this morning—how does he do that?—will carry you on. Apply to Neptune for tears.
On a pin, in a box, in a drawer, in a cabinet, in a dusty annex, there it is, your smile, the one upturned on both sides in symmetrical pleasure.
A long-ago clerk handsomely quilled its number, 34, or 558, or whatever, and here today it sits, a lonely representative of its continent of gone-tomorrow wonders. Immortality is a lot to ask of a couple of square inches of pretty iridescence.
If we gave our specimen a sky and a sun again, would it lift from its disenchanted inventory and join all its fellow wings who light momentarily on puddles and brilliant, perfect things and then are never seen again?
What are you saving it for? Let us try.
DC native Laura Costas wonders if she is an artist often overtaken by words or a writer whose poems intermittently become pictures. She has won grants from the DC Commission on the Arts and the Montgomery County, MD Arts Commission, and an award from the American Institute of Graphic Arts. She is the author and designer of two books, Honest Stories published by DC’s Gut Punch Press, and the autonomously produced Fabulae, Tales for an Age of Ambivalence. These poems are from a forthcoming collection, Ariadne Awakens, Instructions for the Labyrinth.
Artwork by Laura Costas.