The birds have woken me before dawn,
in the left margin of June without you:
some loves are textual, coming paratactically,
Alexandrine, getting smoked like a Cuban.
And you, caesuredly.
So the morning is about to do her rise
thing, the lupines, the vireos, and I’m back
in the rivers we waded in, floated down,
discussed abstractly and mythologically
(Lovett, Char, Lethe, Charon), their uterine
beds, our brokenness, your dop kit
and mesquite (neither keeps you).
Nothing has kept you on the globe
where I learned the word gypsum
yesterday. How fucking boring is the
heaven-is-a-mansion thing, esp. since
how much better would a river be
where you and me are alive
and always alive with moving.
So the birdsong—the dawn chorus—
man they sure do remind me of you,
the white-throated sparrow oppositing
death, esp. Brother, fisher, owl of awake
and sleep, some nights we got so drunk
I was afraid you would go home,
put a frozen pizza in the oven
and pass out, the house burning down
around you. And this morning’s sobriety
means no you. You would have hated it.
But the summer, the short north of it,
the bird derries, the beautiful derrieres
on the ferry (otherwise a bag of marsh-
mallows), classic blues, the scissor-tail
and colic roar of a river—
even though it’s just the highway noise—
just like when we lived together: shearing,
in love with a draft of forever, your bed
one room over, your love the adjacent
possible, a door (I get it now) opening
on a river titled Help, where no waters
overwhelm, where the soul sits, discursive,
no burning second story to pull you from,
all the dry bones crumbled like windowsill bees
reanimate, breathed into, singing back
to life the morning, calling the sun
back up, a poesis coming true, word by
word, the dark clouds lightening, lifting
droozy dawn from horizon, ceasuredly.
15 Seconds (My Vagina Is Opening Like a Flower)
How long a moon long, the dodge of out,
this pushing from the oh-fix-me living right.
O Lord. A year. A paraphrase, O delish.
O sentimental argument, Lord.
The long moon, the grass growing,
tip and strive. We find love
when we’re cowards, dots
on one end of a text message,
typing, bores of syntax.
Dear Lord, your liminality
is dotted, elliptical like the sense
of now (dot dot dot), 15 seconds long
long moon (pls Lord help me).
For the way the halls and viewing bays
stay dark while the great tank glows like a soul
lustrated in blue light, I applaud the aquarium
architect. From left to right the silent ones swim
in and out of sight. They move like thoughts,
like memory, or like a Wes Anderson diorama
of earthly delights: lionfish, an albacore,
the lone stingray—and then like a wound,
a sea turtle at eye level. I recognize in hers
your thin-lipped disdain for being analyzed,
your inexorable wariness of just being.
The truth is you show up like this everywhere:
on the trail, in New Yorker cartoons, in my own
dark carapace where I keep all lost loves
(think of all those things you saved).
I am full of you. In and out of view,
swimming, still swimming, through pages
of blue, one after another, whole
fascicles of being bound up and buoyed,
I’m touching the plate glass, leaning
into it, in a way wanting more
but finally losing sight of you, and
having seen enough for one day
pushing off the glass like the edge
of a pool, just hard enough to keep going,
and finally (I am sorry) walking away.
LINDSAY ILLICH is an Associate Professor of English at Curry College in Milton, MA. Her work has recently appeared in Adirondack Review, Arcadia, North American Review, and Salamander.