I Saw You

Nothing burns alone.

Let each face be a flame of itself.
Let skin to be amber and silk.

Let a bridge join the air from you
to me like breath’s return. I’ll wait
for you—for the arch of your foot,

the way your lips are dark honey
that burns the throat,—I saw you—a red
jacket, or leaving. When I glance up

the exact color of your eyes is indelible
but impossible to say. Only once have I
come close, under a sky swept completely

clean: looking up I saw not blue but
shadows of swallows careening into the night.

The Purple Dusk of Twilight Time

Humid night I peer out my black window.
My dead parents waltz the lawn as stardust.

Their song is a music of carbon and water,
of fog rolling in, crushing little bites
out of everything, the moon.

When a wave recedes from a beach,
the sand flashes like a sheet of diamond.
It’s bright, but my father was that once,
now dark in the poverty of the earth.

The wind is a ballroom for my curtains.
My mother danced like that, until the sand
gave way beneath her, and the water came in.

The trees are ripe—they lift and drop along
the carrying of wind. They are not mine,
the sounds they make are hard upon me.

Night smears its graphite across my lips,
my tongue, and the stars like drills pierce

eyes before the rug is yanked.
What is it that the Grand Canal tells him?
What we’re made of—charcoal. And clouds.

Michael Gushue is co-founder of the nanopress Poetry Mutual. His books are Pachinko Mouth (Plan B Press), Conrad (Silver Spoon Press), Gathering Down Women (Pudding House Press), and—in collaboration with CL Bledsoe—I Never Promised You A Sea Monkey (Pretzelcoatl Press). He lives in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, D.C.


Image by Zeynel Cebeci, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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