• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 12
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Darkening, Brightening

At midnight I stretch flat on the wooden raft,
out on the lake by my father’s house.
It is August of 1999, the summer I begin to tie my hair back.
The boy says he adores the nape of my neck.
How lovely of him to use “adores” instead of “likes”.
The grass is warm to touch, kissed by the light from stars
that are already dead.
Surely nothing that beautiful could live long.
darkening, brightening,
sixteen winks and a tulip.
Most of the time I meditate on the dark waters.
The moon is my mother.
My mother is the moon.
White as cow’s milk, round as a breast,
lactating, and sagging over me in the bluest air.
And I am that baby fattened like a little buddha.
Flower buds bloom, bloom, bloom,
until moony milk turns sour.
I wear my mother’s white silk dress without a bra.
I dance across her retina like a bright ballerina.
Such is the ritual to perpetuate one’s youth,
the waiting through the hot where nothing has significance.
It’s funny and a little sad,
that no one notices me gone,
moused out of the great house without triumph.
In the family room Josephine is playing the piano,
my father’s out cold at the bottom of his bottle.
Daddy’s blue and mystic hours. Daddy’s lullaby. The husk of the house
chases me down, down the lake,
now in sight, now hidden behind a yew tree.


Darkening, Brightening

Dark as an eye and terribly mad. Daddy, daddy,
is that you? Or has it always been my imagination?
How I would love to believe in tenderness.
How I would love to drift into the sea,
and let the lighthouse beam sweep over me.
Not even the light from my mother’s window could reach me then.
The white light emitted from her laburnum lamp that she never turns off,
not even in her blue-capsuled sleep, her lipstick
smearing onto her sheets like old menstrual blood.
Everybody is afraid of something. I have to tell someone
about this terrifying space inside me, like the closed hollow of a bell pepper.
I hardly know myself, elbows, knees, fingernails, and those echoes!
Listen, the season is changing soon.
The boy curls up against me in the afternoons.
I think I will love him for a while.
And I will always remember. The touch
of the thighs, the damp hair, and the soft fuzz on his upper lip.
darkening, brightening,
sixteen winks and a tulip.
The shine of dead stars sweeter than any kind of love.