This night has come back like a promise--
not the clouds, but the patterns beneath them
oil-dabbed & egg-yolked, homes stacked
side by side in a game of chess. We’d make
the landscape holy if we could, bless & baptize,
let the amber river soak us from ankle to scalp. Where ships
come & go & call back again. We take them with their skeletons,
wipe salt off each our backs before it dries into a crust.
This is a world where everyone survives & if they don’t,
at least they allow themselves to leak, membranes porous,
diffusing the edge between body & boat. Nothing can wound us
but spilling weeds, oversaturated skin, the silk that reached
earth before us & what will linger after that. Nothing hurts
more than permanence, addicting like the dark. We once believed
in a god that would love us so much that he’d leave us alone.
But somehow we are still seen, regrettably, in specks of paint,
glow that drips & splotches from above. For a home after war
is less home than flower: inky petals, silken seeds. We rest
our heads in cocoons, let months & footprints gather up in rings;
carving new idols from mud & leaves, ash & song, & putting them
in corners nobody can see. Sometimes after night we stop speaking,
stop sleeping, wanting nothing more than for water to outlast
our descendants. & that’s that: we come from myth, a gasp,
wide veins run through by lead. We don’t own anything
& we wouldn’t want to if we could. A painter died hundreds
of years ago & we’re still turning to one another to ask
if he had morals, honest hands, if we’re yet allowed to mourn.
Leela Srinivasan is an MFA student at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she holds a BA in Psychology and MA in Communication from Stanford University, where she wrote and published a collection of psychological poetry as her undergraduate honors thesis. She currently lives in Austin, Texas.
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