by Dorianne Laux
Beginnings are brutal, like this accident
of stars colliding, mute explosions
of colorful gases, the mist and dust
that would become our bodies
hurling through black holes, rising,
muck ridden, from pits of tar and clay.
Back then it was easy to have teeth,
claw our ways into the trees — it was
accepted, the monkeys loved us, sat
on their red asses clapping and laughing.
We’ve forgotten the luxury of dumbness,
how once we crouched naked on an outcrop
of rock, the moon huge and untouched
above us, speechless. Now we talk
about everything, incessantly,
our moans and grunts turned on a spit
into warm vowels and elegant consonants.
We say plethora, demitasse, ozone and love.
We think we know what each sound means.
There are times when something so joyous
or so horrible happens our only response
is an intake of breath, and then
we’re back at the truth of it,
that ball of life expanding
and exploding on impact, our heads,
our chest, filled with that first
There was a kiss that tasted like reëntry, the sky hitting the brakes with a roar, that blazing, intimate acceptance of a spacecraft into atmosphere, every unlikely angle, one head tilting to another, a scorched, soft light jet-stream wish to return home. History made and slammed back like a shotgun round. A promise on the wing, the ground salted, memories buried. The cast lines up, takes a bow, walks off stage, and leaves their shadows behind as the curtain falls, and it tasted like hello as well as goodbye. My apartment is choked with memories, my neighborhood is a cemetery, same as the highway south, much like my life.
He asked for my writing once, to permanently tattoo, something short, beautiful, meaningful. “Between our hands, we could have made fire”. To the death, he said, to the guttering of the sun. (The next one, he gave me nothing I have not been able to give back.) In the archives, our shared love, deliberate and valiant, a blazing comet made of fiercely bared skin, and the small delicate jewelry we wore in our ears, drops of garnet dipped in silver, lost but unforgotten. I send him a message just after midnight, from a number he doesn’t know: I am still wearing your name at the base of my breath.