Memory is the sense of loss and loss pulls us after it.
Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping

The air tonight invites the dense warren of smoke from your cigarette to calve, dorsal fin and tail  swim among the dry spots secluded in boxes, inhabit the moorings that send back darkness but won’t best lethargy the kind that pillories a mind.

My herky jerky-boondoggle of words dallies with impulse, enlists the ringing of doorbells, were centuries in the making and now are rife with traffic.

You rose you bathed, you dressed you shaved felt well or poorly, your  mouth a vowel open days long. Oh lonely transvestite, transient observer

you got up with the tides, invalidated the cosmos. You inhabit a microbe.  Your place of birth not the stars.

The cities you targeted risked drowning and dementia. You were the echo of the furniture people moved into their one-room vocations, their coffers rarely full,  stomachs mostly empty. Tear ducts in surfeit.

Their derelictions few, drunkeness not one of them. Unlike you they had no wish for infinitude, safe passage yes, across the piebald planet the city’s black and white counterpane and for the wheels that carried them not to recall they were water.

Like you they wished to float

among the water lilies in aquatic gardens, the platelets content to serve in blood, carefree as nematodes who swallow and defecate at both ends simultaneously.

What freshets endure if not the hushed cadences of memory?

But when the mind can no longer encamp in light and the body not see its own wave-warped reflection one hears no notes except in dreams whose contents well capriciously against phantom moons and shrink when the dreamer wakes like sponges alert to an unprecedented new dryness.

Memory’s antecedents so few: not the violence of stars, their barbarous embers, not the dizzying heights of ozone surfing the fleshpots, your days their raw nows where you stow your most recent aggressions. Not the hoard of adjectives you append to your fleeting emotions: toxins that penetrate so deep the wounds they cause can’t be bandaged.

Only this: the clamor of a sunset striking shop windows, the deep-mouthed hissing of crickets nearing a swarm of goldenrod in a nearby field where the honeybees are overworking their sense of smell: dots strung together in shifting bouts of color.

Nobody rests. The hours lose their shadows. Now light will never reach its destination.  The sky won’t thaw nor lasso fire. Winter drips so slowly against the windowpanes and legs hunt each other in the dark for the glowing tracks of their miscalculations.

In this city fire walked over its own infinitude, hid an anvil in a knapsack kept at the bottom of a hollowed out hymnal. Code breakers were sent in to read it. The city of lost tomorrows had a name, its shopworn afterlife left on the shelves to rot. Brides lose their perspective when left untouched. Bride in the bridal bed, it asked to be touched. The world is empty, its future unwritten. Pigeons eat the stones from its heart.

Susan Sonde

Susan Sonde is an award winning poet and short story writer. Her debut collection: In the Longboats with Others won the Capricorn Book Award and was published by New Rivers Press. The Arsonist, her fifth collection will be released May 2019 from Main Street Rag. Her sixth collection, Evenings at the Table of an Intoxicant was a finalist in the New Rivers New Voices 2019 contest.