“I fall out the door on my way to you with the passionate suitcase that I’ve carried so long flapping its one broken arm in the breeze. It spills all the words in the street like coins. The words for desire and regret. I fall out the door on my way to you. The night slams shut. I don’t look back.”
– Cecilia Woloch, from ‘The Passionate Suitcase’
(Late, BOA Editions, 2003)
The Forms of Despair
We returned from the war happier, arms around our shadows –
Who claimed to be older than us. They told great jokes
And lay around barefoot, hair precisely
Unkempt, cigarettes hissing and glowing like christmas lights.
Only our fiancées were tired and bothersome,
Having forgotten how to love, or vice versa.
Some had moved to factories in other cities,
Others, when pressed, said, ‘No-one’s forcing you to put up with
We went skating with our shadows,
Huddled under fir trees drinking sausage tea.
Inquisitive sheep collected around our camp;
It was good to be among the ice storm and the believers.
We described the funny pages to Simon – who had lost both his
But the jokes didn’t work so well in description.
First published in The Migraine Hotel (Salt Publishing, 2009).
Read about Luke and The Migraine Hotel here.
She lies on a bed of stones, bruised by feathers, worn by the turning of clock hands. Her forehead is creased with troubled sleep, her mouth twitching the beginning of words. She’s dreaming. Maybe of crumbling buildings or white rooms with no doors, or beds without pillows. She never remembers the details, wakes with tension in her neck, a crowded head.
She drinks tequila for breakfast in tiny shot glasses, wipes sweat from her face, and waits for her husband to bring home beads for her neck, a poem, a blood orange. He is gone a long time. She unwraps ornaments from newspaper, curls her hair in rags, pinches her cheeks to give them colour. She wishes she could split one half of her from the other – sit in out-of-town bars, soak her skin in alcohol, lie with men who have coarse stubble and rough hands. She would wrap herself in their sweat, see if her husband noticed.
Instead she rubs her skin with lychees, lets her curls tumble onto her shoulders and waits barefoot. He comes home tired, but drawn to her. He kisses her cheek then pulls back, with questions on his lips. He tells her she tastes of lost summers and a trip to the beach once when they were first lovers.
First published in Winter Hands (Shadow Train Books, 2007).
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