for emilija, for luke

1.

there is a note at the edge of the
cliff, high above the earth, that you
haven’t reached yet. in it, i’m keeping
your nervous smile that orbits
the yes that will follow, & the few seconds
you were too far from ground, too
far from me, to answer.

maybe the belay
was the through-line of this love–
what began as long pauses, a radio silence that fed the
mouth of my worry &
would have me tugging this tether
between us (are you there are you still there),
my heart, taking on your shape,
was not yet secured
to the earth

that it would all lead
someday to me, standing in sunlight
at the foot of a quarry, the weight of all of me
that has learned the trustfall of loving you,
now the very thing which suspends
you mid-air as you climb
towards my proposal.

when your anchor is your anchor is
the love of your life


2.

there is an apartment in stockwell
where years of us took place.
in it, thousands of photos are strung
together: a picture-book five years wide,
developed in the darkroom we crafted each
night to keep you sleeping, curtains pinched, t-shirt over
your tender eyes. if you squint, you can still
see my silhouette, a warm shape with my
head on the pillow. a thin strip of light at the bottom of
the bedroom door, & bubbling up from it,
the full embrace of your laugh, the gentle chorus of
friends, soft sounds that stitched the walls in place.
this photo, a tableau of how easily my body would
meet sleep under this cloak. a protection spell
sung into my skin by the glow of living room
chatter.

you were never too good to be true,
just good. just true.

3.

i do not know how to capture you, now,
how to language you into being so the world will
remember, get your colours just right so
they will see you as i do
beneath my eyelids.
i do not know which series of words
are magic enough, now, to draw you from
memory, how to make them see the pillars
of this glowing life we built sideways, an
accidental foundation pouring beneath us as we shook
hands at a vending machine, the concrete
drying perfectly as i jogged to meet you, out of breath,
& the image of you, relaxed & smiling, imprinted
like hands in the new cement.

4.

there are many selves, pinned along the
chronology of our story. shimmering pieces of us
across the years, memories
flickering in mid-air.
one of yours swears up
and down the blueprint holds no
mention of a pet. another coos
as mali vibrates with joy at
the sight of you, a puddle
of man & best friend
at the front door.
one of your earliest shapes
sits across from me, hoping aloud
non-attachment would scaffold
the palace taking shape between
our bodies.

maybe this caught
up with us, after all. that our paths
paralleled just enough to hold
up the road we walked together. that
we mastered the balancing act of the tethered
and the non-attached. two whole
lives loved into their best self,
luminous. a once-anxious reaching
hand, now a living memory of
holding a love so grounding it
would anchor me in the days
i would face without you.

5.

there is a note at the edge of the
cliff, high above the earth, that you
haven’t reached yet.

our story lives as you live,
a breathing watercolour
inside the bodies of all who stood in
the light we cast outward.

every self you
loved me with, suspended, safe,
every self i
loved you with, holding on to this rope,
a woman the shape of remembering.

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