I think one day you will disappear and I’ll find you, years later,
hidden in a cave underneath a rocky outcropping, watching
Big Trouble in Little China on a small handheld as you lie next
to a pool of blind fish.
You’re happy here alone, but when you notice me
you still smile with an expression cracked from years of neglect,
a face worn like a rundown bridge. And together we go hunting,
remember lightfoot, remember toe to heel. You walk like you’re
wolfbound. But even in your leather rags, dirt halo,
your mind like a Jerusalem watchtower,
you’re still more human than most.
I want to ask you, “Where have you been?” but I know you’ll say
“I’ve been here,” like no other answer makes sense.
You talk me through dressing a kill, and your voice
is like wind through trees, or warm sunlight on grass.
Lay him on his back, you say, Don’t cut too close to the spine,
You touch my arm as if to steady me. Your fingers feel like
watching flowers grow.
Daylight burns out. The meat cooks. I’d forgotten the silence
of sitting close to you, like the space in between counting mala beads.
Then you ask me how I’ve been, and what can I say.
“I’ve finally gotten a big book contract, I don’t cry myself to sleep.
I did all the things I wanted to do -
I saw the Aurora Borealis up close, I climbed a mountain in Nepal, went shark fishing. But-”
I stop, hesitant, and you look at me like a sentence that won’t end.
“But when I imagine the ocean at night I still see a transmutated black hole
and I know if I move a little bit to the left I’ll fall and be swallowed.”
You nod, as if expecting this answer. You peel off your clothes,
years of detritus, and drop them beside the cooking fire.
I do the same. Outside the frost blooms upwards and
in the dark the small rocks become crags, sloping outward.
We climb to the edge, steeper now, an oily ocean.
The cold laces my jaw tight and I shiver as I press close to you.
The not words grow between us.
Wait. Don’t speak. Listen. I’ve missed you
like I’ve missed this feeling.
And the feeling is heavy like a beam of light,
piercing through a wall, the motes of dust swirling
so that they seem to gain weight as they pass through.
Heavy so that when I look down I see not the night ocean,
not anymore, but our stiffening fingers and bare legs, extending past
their boundaries,metamorphosing into crashing waves.
I am not only myself,
And I know, then, why you
came here. And I know, then,
why I feel as if I’m no longer breathing but still I continue to stand.
I am no longer a stranger touching my own arms, I am the cathedral on sticks.
I am the thing beyond the crag, the freeze, the fire at our backs.
I am you and in some ways,
we are the storm that stirs upwards and sticks to our bare skin.
We are the pulse that moves from the heart beat
to the dark vents of the ocean floor.