Friday, November 15, 2013

15 November 2013

Charlie Bondhus [Baltimore Review]

Sharing a Bed

I remember the first evening in bed,
making love with the lights on.

Outside the window, a hanging basket
of red impatiens
and a ruby-throated hummingbird.

In late spring's greenish light
my head was a bowed peony,
            your torso,
            a grand urn
            of tissuey ranunculus.

Summer found us sharing a home
with mismatched furniture,
plagues of ragweed and clover
choking the thin, dark spaces
between our together-time.

Like angel's trumpet, I craved
the cool white suddenness
the moon brings, 
and when it came
            silent as a cloud
our limbs were not the marble of roses,
or the patrician regularity of zinnias,
but the cheap, unsung beauty
of daisies, wild pinks.

Hornets nested in our heads.
Butterflies settled on our eyelids.
Morning's first finches began to sing.

My arms were full of nettles and lamb's ear.


We split up when spring
and summer came

together in late May; the heat
was too much, not enough

iced tea in the house
to cool our tongues

which were hot
with language,

chalky with gunpowder.
We focused on packing

my books and dog tags
the photo I took in Afghanistan

of Mendoza posing with a scorpion
skewered on the end of a combat knife,

my pornos and wrestling videos,
grappling gloves and athletic supporter,

tournament and combat medals,
the complete seasons of Mad Men on DVD.

You didn't want this, but you can't live
without answers. I have answers

in the unlit part of my brain, tethered
by a wire-thin neural tightrope

which words are too cumbersome to cross.

I can't make you understand
that everything is dangerous now;

that you can't slip your arms around my chest
and pull me to the carpet anymore;

that sex feels like crossing
the Korengal Valley without body armor;

that when you try to pin my arms
my instinct is to kill you.

And I've said all this
with my silence, my sitting

in empty rooms, my leaving
the lights off, my looking

at my chin when faced with a mirror.
It's not that I hate myself,

it's that I can't find myself
even when I'm dreaming

that I'm in Afghanistan and it's night
and I have a flashlight, but all there is

is desert, desert, desert, dunes
pockmarked with mortar canyons

and there's no sound,
like that moment of ringing deafness

right after an explosion,
and I'm looking for something

but there's nothing except sand
and silence, and darkness outside

my cone of fluorescent light.
Then I remember

what I'm looking for
is my own body and that's

when I wake up, and I see you,
sleeping dreamless. Part of me

wishes you were dead,
not because I hate you

but because then I'd finally
have something to cry over.

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