AWOL ICON: A LOVE SONG WITHOUT MUSIC

imageI vowed if I went, I’d be loving you from the other side of the world, and I airplaned away, wearing only fresh wounds and your worn out boots.

I marinated in swimming holes until brackish water raisined my fingers. I plunged under, past pirate ships and sunken plunder, kicked to the core of the earth, kissed jellyfish, liking the the electric lick of their transparent tongues on my lips. I filched skeletons from coral beds, red in the light of distant underwater volcanoes. Even in the black heart of the ocean, oysters purpled and blued. The pearls in them shone like halos of Christ. And your ghost, a confused Jesus, walked under the water instead of on it. I couldn’t read the book of his face, couldn’t tell if he thought I was a honeyed twist of Magdalene’s hair, or the hammer that drove in his nails.

I’d kiss your feet if you’d let me. I’d walk across the ocean. I’d Lazarus my love for you to life, because it was never dead anyway, not even sleeping. I suffocate it between my palms at night, pinch its nostrils, leave it for dead. The next day, it’s exploding my head again, emerging from its grave, its shroud a cloud that settles over my eyes until all I see is white. Thunder breaks something, and it’s not just the sky.

I said if I left, when I died, I’d wait on the other side for you. Death doesn’t scare me now. I dream river bottoms, soggy with longing and won’t-flinch vows. I dream your eyes. I dream red flowers shuddering cold in the fist of winter. I dream you didn’t mean the things you said. I dream you wish my love for you un-dead. I dreams knives. I dream fire. I dream my toes trembling on a circus wire. I dream myself falling, and I don’t care much. My skin doesn’t pink. My heart doesn’t wing. My mouth won’t scream.

I used to know the taste of crimson. I used to sweat the smell of light. I could have divided every molecule by a million miracles, laid them out of the table two-by-two, amoebas entering the ark of a strip of bark, or making a raft of a dollop of grass in a glassy puddle. Now I measure my life like this: _________ days until I die.

Last night, dream me wondered why you were watching. “I’m loving you from the other side of the world,” you said. I took your blessed head in my hands, pulled the thorns from your graying hair, wound dandelions between your toes, anointed your skin with with holy water, made your kneecaps into altars to Mary.

We are growing old. I see my wrinkles in the mirror of your face. There is a place just to the left of my to ribcage where I dug a hole and I buried every word you ever whispered. I have memorized the whorls of your fingertips. My lips have traced and tasted every bump of your tongue. Still, your name to me sounds like yellow. Still, I keep the faith. Still, I testify: the only amazing grace I ever knew was sewn like lace around the edges of your teeth.

There was never an inch of your secret sins that weren’t mine times ten. There was never a scrap of your sacred skin I didn’t know how to love.

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