Emptiness expands between an event and whatever follows. Drying coffee dribbles the car floor and lost licorice. Evening begs a soundtrack for living’s mania, for buyer’s remorse. No, not those — for the famous “formal feeling.” A good dramatic instinct like fine bones in a horse improves the journey. At the hotel where the room’s paint job was unfinished, the clock read the wrong hour as if it were interpreting a dream. I wanted not room service but to have eaten nothing. I wanted two years ago, but the hours moved forward in the usual fashion all night long. Go back and think about those things you said and felt he said. He ate his tooth at a diner so authentic the literal tabletops were greasy. We cried a little and kissed much and then two more before the plane. Not a concord. Me to return to the DC of what it might be like to have money for tiny food and fancy blankets, my boots eaten by NYC salt. To see the Washington water from its important bridges was a grand gift of the light. A sheaf of wheat bending to please return to being alone.
The low moon hurries over the lake to leave us a new phase of feathered night: a kind of stoned disappearance of weight and water so still the stars stood between two forests of upside down trees. My back flat to the dock, between the skin of our palms no space. How much darkness rims the body, how much of it words trim, working to keep us safe.
At the medieval anatomy museum a clitoris like a pomegranate seed waits in the 14th century wax woman who used to show medical students where a baby grows. Waits for what precise pleasure I don’t know — Apollinaire prefers the nose, but a seed bursts darker red inside the mouth. The beloved’s mistake is thinking. I want to be alive — aliver than that. The bones of lions struck together make a fire which is why I watch your face so closely. Nothing is to be despised not even the entrails of animals. Give me a turning word, for I envy fish their movement, and birds their bones of air. To be shaken like a drop where I cling by a bluer fire than the bluest sky, I undress and stand by the bed.
It felt like an itch, so they called it itch. Long days waiting in the sun for the sun to go down, endlessly naming the animals. § There was always so much world stretching out around them. Not that the garden wasn’t big. § They forgot Paradise almost completely. On purpose. Old later, and wishing to remember they struggled: What animals were there? She’d ask and he would wonder. Other than deer? Other than house spiders and Junebugs? I couldn’t see; they were far away, he’d say.
tumbling, the huge drops: rain on the window, while I wanted next to you and kept away. A heavy sound of ripe drips, our fingers, to mouths. Oh. I am awake all night.
Sarah Stickney received her MFA from the University of New Hampshire. Her poems and translations have appeared in the U.S. and abroad in publications such as La Questione Romantica, Rhino, The Portland Review, Drunken Boat, Cold Mountain Review, and others. She is a former Fulbright Grantee for the translation of Italian poetry. The Guest in the Wood (Chelsea Editions: New York, 2013), her co-translations of Elisa Biagini’s selected poems, was chosen the University of Rochester in 2014 for its Best Translated Book Award for poetry. She lives in Annapolis, MD, where she teaches at St. John’s College.