by Melissa Watt
File the welcome and bury
the cheer in the backyard
next to the grill where no one
will suspect it. Rip
down the fence—what are you containing?
Paint the house a different color.
Sand it down and lock away
the syllables of sparrows
when you first moved in.
Don’t focus on the dead
bougainvillea or the rotting lizard
on the front porch eclipsed by ants.
Don’t think of the good times.
Hide the key under the mat.
Lie even when the sun is on the marigolds.
Remember to step over yourself.
Erase the footprints in the hall.
Elbow the fingerprints
off the bathroom mirror—
what is there but your own eyes—
the whites and deep pupils,
your lips—a bow, undone.
I’m in the world without my father
for thirteen years today.
Time’s passed—blasé—as if it’s been easy:
the dislocation, the lacework of grief
beneath my jeans and t-shirts, the premier
washing of his State Trooper windbreaker—
patchouli traces fizzed away with Tide.
He’s a spirit in a wave—
its teal and splash. The lapping too
and the long strings of moonlight
on crustaceans. Fleas and leeches.
Tonight a shield bug illuminates my kitchen
with its bright green body, circling as I am
sipping tea in the stove’s ever dimming light.
I keep your room the same, despite
frequent frissons of loss and the way
Occam’s razor says you won’t return.
Twenty years erased in an ache
of waves despite “wait,” keepsakes.
I am the song that lost her voices.
Instead, I bend into the nocturne pen
of specters, drop down next to
your slowdancing Doppleganger.
We’re swaying bodies, the orbit of oddities
in this shapeless no-man’s land.
When I breathe, I see you breached
on an undiscovered planet. I arch
awake, search for your familiar nightshirt—
tiny, alive—quiet in your waiting for me.
Follow the light to flat feet, wide eyes,
lips loyal over roaring. I came here to fall.
Burn the ancient, and fuck in the rubble
drunk, crazed by the mystery of what
we could be. Me through a keyhole
before we ever met: “that one.” The truth
is dawn and sparrows, unrelenting glimmer.
Let’s enact the formative creeping
of our ancestors, use our gilded bodies
to bind the sun, wooers of God
ripe, lewd. I love your gnarled
borders busy with cicadas, your smirk.
Arched backs, our burning a panacea.
So this is what it means to be a universe.
Melissa Watt holds an MFA from Emerson College. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Black Heart Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, Ohio Edit, Lunch Ticket, Visitant, Cheap Pop and elsewhere.