CAPICHE?

Tawni flask mouth open, final

I miss you the way I’d miss my toenails if they were pulled out by the mafia, or the way I’d miss my eyes if I stared into the sun until I went blind.  I miss you the way a madman misses his mind, achingly, in starts and fits, almost forgetting I ever had you sometimes.  I miss you the way Jesus missed his skin when they flailed it from his back. Call it blasphemy, but I won’t lie. I cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” on the daily, but what I mean by God is you, even though you’re not gone, just locked up in that matchbox with a newborn swan, a few hairpins, and a bag of rocks.

Whales un-blue themselves, flinging their great, heaving bodies on the beach, tails thrashing, reaching for your wonder.  Pirate ships give up their plunder, renounce their lives of crime, go straight. Tectonic plates shift when you sneeze.  When you pass, lampposts bend, hissing yellow breath into smog tainted breeze, to ask if you’re shamanic.

You drift to me like incense through the air conditioning vents of every rented room I find.  You say my name in braille sometimes.  You teach me to see in tongues.  Once, I ran my hands over the rungs of the ladder of your rib cage, and I climbed a thousand miles.  Your smile has become my anchor to this world.  If not for you, I’d melt away, and I wouldn’t care.  A reverse Rapunzel, I’d follow the rope of my hair down, down, down, to the ground, then under.

Just now, mist you hovers over that chair in the corner, invisibly missing me, whispering the secrets of God in the rasping language of rattlesnakes maraca-ing through the window.  Reptiles always shake after the rain, the way trains always blow their whistles when Nina Simone plays.

Last night, as stars cast pulsing purple over low-hanging clouds, I plucked a dream from your head, saw me in a subway. You were there. You smiled, and shards of moonlight hung from your hair, slicing your skin ‘til it glowed.  You took my hand and towed me to the other end of the world.  I can’t dance, but I followed you, and it worked out fine.  My spine tingled when you touched my back, turning me.  You had feet enough for two.  I wanted to tell you I loved you, but you already knew, and anyway, you didn’t have time for small talk.

You laid me on the rock of Gibraltar, made an altar of my lips.  I laughed, took the miracle of you on my tongue, swallowed you whole the way a starving woman downs cool milk.  The nighttime licked me alive, silk on my skin.   You sang in the sinless language of Christ, and thrice, the train running past wept, so I knew Johnny Cash’s ghost was on board.  Roosters crowed in reverse, so I knew St. Peter had un-denied. I tasted your salt, so I knew I’d died and gone to heaven.

“Capiche?” you asked.

“Capito,” I whispered.

Prufrock measured his life in coffee spoons.  I measure mine in the bumps on your tongue.

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