|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,
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
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.