by Elisabeth von Uhl

At once, we are strangers —
the memory of the wind
blowing through stark, golden sugar maples
on the side of a hill at my grandmother’s farm —
you will never know. I keep this locked,
a recollected pattern of neurons, hallowed,
reversed, and stripped of color, like a funnel
of sand. So, I dole out a speck for you,
a tangle of language, a piece of recognition,
my love, but you refuse with calloused
hands sliding over my thighs. And this
privacy of our sex, a rot of our fighting
are all a mess of wires you tinker with
in your velvet dark basement leaving us
like two suicide bombers about to embark
on immortality. But what of this shroud of place
when you can gather fear like leaves
meant for a pile in autumn? Like the eleven
years it took to build the four-story mosque
down the street? Like the open hydrant’s water
that cascades into the pit of the lushest tree on the block?
A love letter written on the back of a tossed
envelope now litter on the street? Like the old recluse
who only leaves her house at 2:30 am
to buy tomato soup at that late-night bodega
down the street from us? Or the azalea bush
that never really bloomed this past spring?
These narratives are sticky like blood.
So, now, with eyes still fine from sleep,
I awake and look to you and ask “do you grieve
that this will never be again?”