A System of Forgetting (Rain Water)
Every morning there is the white noise
of the river our relationship became.
I obstacle-course through mason jars, the noise
of artificial rain dripping into them. I become
Poseidon reigning over this apartment. I rig
intricate systems of pipes and drips. The world becomes
a rainstorm all around me, never not falling, rigging
the air with its own pizzicato notes.
You were a ship and I was your rigging
and like a rotted rope, like a cello string that will not note,
you cut me at the tie and threw me off into this sea.
Now each morning I compose an aria for this room. Each note
a drop of water from the ceiling, a single memory. You’ll see:
one day I will make me into a river cutting through my memories
of you, washing these mason jars to the forgetting sea.
Let’s begin with a man’s body,
sinuous, twisting itself around us
like kudzu, like grapevine.
Let’s begin with our love
for the knuckle bones
of his toes, the hard
intersections of his body’s
highways. Let’s forget about irony.
Let’s remember the way
he walks, his heels chasing
after his toes, the muscles
in his calves tensing up
like Cupid’s bowstrings
notching their arrows straight
into our chest cavities.
Let’s gerrymander his knee
until his thighs are bulging
and wrapped around us
like thick sailing ropes.
Let’s forget to ask his name.
Let’s climb the ladder-veins
of his cock until we reach the long
shore of his chest’s heavy beaches.
Let’s grasp the chainmail
of his shoulders and feel
the mushroom flesh of his lips
against ours. Let’s say we do
this as a science experiment.
Hypothetically speaking, let’s say
we love him. Let’s just say that.
You told me I could not write a poem
about my heart, so I will write one about yours.
It is, of course, cavernous.
And in its caverns there are troll-like creatures
with poor teeth and long hair and they dance
the mambo all day long—sometimes faster,
sometimes slower, and they push the blood
about with their dancing. Your heart is rather proud
of the size of its breasts.
Your heart sometimes feels
them in public but plays it off as if
there were something on its shirt.
Your heart does this just to remember it has
something to be proud of. And your heart remembers
the time its grandmother put it on her knee
and squeezed its sides like it was
a ketchup bottle. Your heart remembers
what it felt like to be loved like that,
with hands on skin, and it wishes it could have
that again, wishes it didn’t have to return every morning
after kissing people on the cheeks in bars all night—
your heart wishes it didn’t have to return before you
woke and place itself back into the heart-
shaped hole inside your chest and feel so god-
damned many of the things that other people—
that you—want it to feel. Your heart wishes
it could stay out one of these nights
and watch the sunrise. It wonders what
it’d be like to see it brightening. To be
on its own, for once. To never again be
enthralled to all your pulsing needs for love.
J.M. GAMBLE is a student at the University of Alabama. His work has appeared most recently in Ninth Letter (online), PANK, Specter, Word Riot, and others. He is the author of the chapbook, And This Blank Card (Chantepleure Press 2013), and the editor of Dewpoint.