I keep trying to put the time our eyes
locked together back into the present but
somehow it is on a separate mesa from me & the gorge
is filled with different parts of weird donkeys &
my hands aren’t touching things right anymore.
I just want to make sure we look
the same still, or like a version of some resurrectable thing
I might still see tonight if I were to go
outside at this late hour, which I know I won’t.
Juniper, the math just doesn’t work out. When
can we live like we’re always about to get on
an airplane? As it is we keep holding
hands with ourselves like there isn’t a
word for love, but there is &
it’s so easy to spell.
I tried to send you the last
letter I wrote you, but it was returned
with all kinds of extra stamps I didn’t
put there originally & it smelled like a
vitamin store. If the lake goes under we’re
all going down with it & that’s just how
things are, right? Yesterday I bought fifty
feet of chicken wire & today I returned fifty
feet of chicken wire. I think I’m just spinning
my wheels until you make the stars
turn back to the colors they were
when I was in grade school & you
weren’t even a thing to speak of.
Or maybe you’re older. What I mean is that
we used to be able to conquer worlds like touching
a little anthill & now it feels like we’ve
charted the gaps inside of us to the point
that it’s obvious where the darts
would go. Just tell me it’s impossible for someone
to stop being invincible later on after starting out that way.
I’m just spitballing here but what if
we cleaned our glasses? Maybe there
are some careful mountains out there that aren’t
on fire, but are just smoking a bit.
No, wait, Juniper, forget all that, because I want to set everything
we do to organ music & put red velvet on all the floors.
You know, we could lay in the grass & touch our teeth to rocks.
I’ll sell my car & burn the money in our hot air balloon torch & you
can drop out of school to read tarot. We’ll roll the sleeves on our
t-shirts up a little bit & kiss in front of people we haven’t met,
Juniper! There are too many sandboxes to push our hands in
for us to be this out of it & that’s wrong. I’m tired
of pushing against my boundaries like there isn’t light
slipping in from everywhere all the time & those cracks
are us-shaped. If I can touch the skin on the back
of your hand & move it I’ll light every lamp in your hair &
that’s a real promise.
Russ Woods is a poet and librarian living in Chicago. He is the author of the books Wolf Doctors (Artifice Books, March 2014) and Sara or the Existence of Fire (Horse Less Press, fall 2014). He edits Skydeer Helpking with Jeannette Gomes. His poems and collaborations are recently or soon to be published in Dusie, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, and Big Lucks.
Image by John Marin via The LACMA.