Footnote: A Fairytale
Sever where the gangrene has not spread,
the underbelly of the skin already blue
in places you crawled in unknowingly.
Where the body is nude there are no lessons
of illness, no remnants of tenderness.
Lie in sheets small and partial, a mitten
in a blizzard or something as lonely,
wondering how to spend a heart
and whether it will suffice as refuge
before the wind turns. In the spring
they fall out of love, it’s not cruel
or vile to expect. The skin will grow back
flushed and forgiving. The body will forget
who brandished the knife, whether
there was such a thing as a wolf at all.
Canyons. Water, land,
Land aching toward more
land, the vast atlas-lasted impasses
back against cracked stone, beat green.
Plumb, aloof, proven hollow
solitude found alone
again, petulant, late.
Camping out of a yellow tent
Frayed nylon near a fearful cliff, now
We slept head-to-feet, silent,
emphatically platonic, two for whom
distance is a dare.
Abandon I remember
rowboats, salt on the oars, bent
Wednesdays on the lake, crescents,
Refuse to believe those phases of the moon,
AND these lakes don’t taste the same,
The water tarnishes every jar.
There he is. There’s Michael. Michael coming at you with his shoelaces untied and spit running down his chin. I’ll kill you I’ll kill you! Michael with his face red swinging his thin white arms and his eyes like a crazy person’s, bright with tears. Michael running hellbent for leather through the lashing sawgrass, taking the split-rail fence in one wild desperate leap, tumbling down into the ditch beyond and leaping up: Missed me! You missed me! Couldn’t ever catch me! Never! As the blood ran down his dirty legs we laughed, tossing the brightly coloured leaves into the air. We couldn’t help but love him, although it might not have been enough to save him. Michael in the falling down rotten house with the damp feather pillows and the broken cups and the three babies that came after him always underfoot, always with snot in their eyes and jam on their diapers. Michael there’s Michael with the scabs on his lips and the trail of fading finger marks across his arms and neck. Michael the swaggering five-year-old spitting and hitching up his trousers on the playground. The eight-year-old riding his bicycle with the sun in his eyes (and we laughed brightly the leaves colouring the sky) – falling – the ten-year-old staggering forward under the weight of that secret, collapsing with the creaking of muscle and the breaking of bones, downward toward that hardness. Michael who said fuck your mother fuck you fuck anyone. Pushing the word out hard with his tongue, his lips wet and loose. Eyes big and squinting and bright. FUCK you. And the arms crossed tightly across his chest, eyes staring blankly and fiercely at nothing. But that was Michael. And us? Oh he would kill us fuckers kill us all if he had to rip our fucking eyeballs out if we didn’t stop looking at him like that for christ’s sake don’t think that he wouldn’t. And would you Michael? We couldn’t help but love him, the way he ran with the bright blood and the leaves drifting down (we laughed) calling wait up wait up. But Michael never had time for anything too slow, he was running just as fast as he could away from that house falling down around his ears and who wouldn’t have? Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t we all have been that way. Running tall and underfed and lanky in the hayfield with our heads held high and fists and teeth and feet ready to kick the living shit out of anyone who ever tried to hurt us anymore than life already had. Running. Always running. There he is. There’s Michael.