by Scott Hartwich
This so like the underside of grief,
yet nothing like this stretching out
beyond place where delicate crumbles
between finger and thumb,
the feeling of empty as when you
finish the last drop of something
nectarous and there won't be more,
but each time I swear off habitual
you slide into it with no thought
for consequence, or remedy, only
your pulse sluggish from heart
to extremity and how cold will you
grow from the medium of want?
As cold as your sun, the reply.
If we were suspended
by our own arms we could subsist.
If what you blew into me bloomed
into an opening past the tunnel
of your eyes I might understand.
But these petals are you, crisp
and fragrant and wholly beyond
my reach and even as I rub them
between my palms the wind
takes them like chaff and spreads
this small miracle into a thin song,
trailing off into the ether.
Now you hold this photograph:
fragile with age, coated with dust
from thoughts turned grime
by the mundane detail. You study
the balance of light and shadow.
Smooth the blackened edges, consider
whether to share. Whether what's
pictured will stand another witness.
Careful, I'm saying. Careful with that.
We must make it last. But when you
hold the match to it, as the flames
creep toward your fingers and frame
your face in this awful afterglow,
I choose, finally, to let it burn.
© 2007 prickofthespindle.com
Scott Hartwich drives a little bus for a living in Bellingham, Washington, where he also coedits a new journal called Greatcoat. His work has appeared in Colorado Review, Diagram, Cue: A Journal of Prose Poetry and countless other journals. By countless he means a few.